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2 Samuel 11:26-12:10, 13-15 Luke 7:36-50 Pentecost 4; June 12 2016
"The trap of hypocrisy"
Imagine for a moment that I come to you with the following scenario. A lady with cancer, Rose, decides that she is going to coordinate the bake sale for her school. She says I am not going to let this shut down my life. I can still make a difference. Another lady, Ivy, who had turned down the chance to head the bake sale because the weather was getting nice and she didn’t want to miss any quality time at the pool, noticed that Rose had not gotten a sign up sheet out, 2 days after of accepting the responsibility. Out of concern for the school, she got on the phone and called all of her friends with news that Rose did not think a sign up sheet for the bake sale was important. Some were even appalled that Rose would accept the position if she couldn’t see what was necessary to do the job. If the cancer was going to get in the way then why did she say that she could do it. She was going to let all the kids down. Outrageous, ludicrous!! You would want to help me run Ivy out of town or have her tarred and feathered in front of the whole town.
Sadly, you are the lady. You and I are Ivy. When you talk about how so and so didn’t show up for this meeting. Or she didn’t do the funeral luncheon right. You are being just like Ivy. You are tearing down what God is lifting up. Why do we do it? Why can’t we find a way to help people succeed? Why can’t we let the person in charge do it the way they have decided instead of the way that we think is best? Why can’t we control our tongue and our thoughts. Why can’t we put the best construction on things and say, “She probably had a good reason for missing. She probably picked this plan with good intentions and how do I know it won’t work out better than my way.” When you realize that you have been Ivy, that you have caused hurt. What do you do then? The same thing as David, you repent. Why do you listen to sermons and say yeah why do people do that? And then go out and do it. Listen to a sermon for how it speaks to you not how you see your neighbor doing it. Let the law convict you of your sin so you can repent and bring it to the Lord so he can truly forgive you and make you into a new creation.
When we realize our sinfulness, is there sorrow? Sure, there is. Do we need to stay stuck in our sorrow? No. Our slate has been swept clean. Did David hang his head in sorrow?
Hear Psalm. 51:
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.
But he did not let the weight remain around his neck. He trusted in God to make his heart clean and new.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
Was David run out of town or tarred and feathered before the whole kingdom? No, God used him to make a mighty kingdom.
How about another scenario? Can you picture a group of guys that are lined up to fix up some things around the church? They get to talking about a young guy named Jack. They say that he has been getting too big for his britches. He has been doing all this stuff around church and has been getting too much praise for it. That is probably all he is interested in, to earn brownie points, not a real interest to serve God like us. A plan is concocted to invite Jack to help them and then stick him with the impossible job that they have been putting off for years because it doesn’t seem doable.
This is like the Pharisee in our gospel lesson who invites Jesus to dinner as if he wants to honor him. After the sinful woman wiped his feet with her tears and hair and poured perfume on them, the Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” The Pharisee was setting Jesus up to fail. He didn’t invite him to honor him but to drag him down. He didn’t like all the attention Jesus was getting, the crowds, the praise – he thought Jesus was getting a little big for his britches.
Did Jesus know who was cleaning his feet? Of course he did. He allowed it not out of ignorance but out of mercy. He knew her sin and he forgave her. He saw her penitence and accepted her show of praise. He knew the sin of the Pharisee too. He saw into his heart before he ever opened his mouth. He could have turned down the dinner invitation because he foresaw the evil intentions. He went quietly like a lamb before the slaughter. He was not afraid of being embarrassed. He knew the truth and would not be deterred by lies.
And of course he knows our sin too. Whether our sin is like Ivy tearing down with her tongue a mom with cancer, or if our sin is like the man concocting a plan to make Jack fall on his face, God sees through to our intentions. He knew the sin of the woman who poured out sorrowful tears and lavished praise. But more importantly he knew she was sorry for her sin and came to him for forgiveness. She recognized who he was and the power he had. She was not like the Pharisee who acted like he honored God but really mocked his power and looked for the chance to tear in with devilish claws. He did not show honor like was the custom of the day. He did not give Jesus water for his feet or give him a kiss or put oil on his head. Why honor this lowly man? The Pharisee didn’t think he did much, if anything, to be forgiven for. He thought he lived a very proper life. He did not see the sin in judging others, he felt qualified to judge. He did not lower himself to his knees before God, he exalted himself based on his actions. But exalting yourself always ends the same way – boom. Pride comes before the fall. God knows all and he desires for us to be repentant, to come to him on our knees with tear filled eyes seeking the grace that he offers time after time.
God sings praises every time we see our own sin. He is not excited that we spot the sin of others –take the log out of your own eye first. He welcomes our sorrowful spirit and says look up – your sins are forgiven. When we repent we put our faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be made right by faith not by observing the law. If being right before God could be gained through the law, than Christ died for nothing. A hero who dies in a fire, does not die for nothing, he dies to save others in danger. Jesus certainly did not die for nothing, he died for everything. He died to save us all. He saved us from our sinful words, thoughts and actions. He enables us to know him, to see him, to serve him to praise him. He causes every good in us and covers over every bad in us. (Psalm 51)
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
He gives us the gift of faith. Your faith has saved you, go in peace!