‘And yet hypocrites would fain, by means of tortuous windings, make a show of being near to God at the very time they are fleeing from him.’ John Calvin.
Religion is rather fond of ‘the outside of the cup’ (39). Religious people are concerned with outer appearances. So long as they look good on the surface they don’t care too much about the inner life. I would argue that Christianity is concerned about both the inside and the outside. Integrity matters; the integration of the whole person. Who I seem to be externally must not be a mask to cover the inside. The Christian faith works from the inside out (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). What we are becoming on the interior will more and more show through to the exterior.
Inside we are all ‘full of’ something (39). As a leader ( and Jesus was speaking to religious leaders) what you are full of will spill over into the lives of other people you are leading. That could be good, but it may be bad. Jesus was scathing in His denunciations of the religious leaders in His day. He knew they were full of bad things like:
– ‘greed and wickedness’ (39);
– pride (42, 43);
– death (44);
– hypocrisy (12:1-3);
These religious leaders were unconverted men, so how could they really help anyone else? (52). Those who came into contact with them touched death because the leaders were spiritually dead.
But even if you are a soundly converted person in leadership, there remains the challenge to cultivate the inside of your life so that lovely things are planted there; beautiful ‘flowers’ that will eventually show on the surface. Don’t succumb to the temptation to be play a part. (The word for ‘hypocrite’ means to be an actor). Be real. That starts on the inside. It can’t be slapped on like make-up.