By this time the crowd, unwieldy and stepping on each other’s toes, numbered into the thousands. But Jesus’ primary concern was his disciples. He said to them, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.
Luke 12: 1-3 The Message
Jesus sees the phoniness and hypocrisy others try to hide. Here, He warns His disciples against imitating the crooked ways of the Pharisees. These teachers of the law were often very skilled and clever with language, and quite smart. They knew how to make a good argument, sounding like extremely wise when doing so. Many times, they were technically correct in their public pronouncements.
Yet the Pharisees' public lives and private lives were very different. They would loudly proclaim scripture’s commands and laws, like “You shall not kill”. Yet all the time, they were plotting with the scribes and others to kill Jesus! The Pharisees said one thing, and did another… No wonder Jesus advised His disciples to listen to the Pharisees, but not to imitate them!
Many devious things are done under the cover of secrecy, and in the dark of night. The same thing continues today with those who want to disobey laws, and conspire to commit evil. Evil deeds are usually not done in the light of day, but rather in secrecy. Why do you think buildings and homes have dusk-to-dawn security lights? The light exposes evil and sin, for Jesus is the light.
A friend of mine became pastor of a church which had a history of turmoil and scandal. One of the first things he told his session was that from that point on, there would be no more secrets. The Session made a pact to banish hidden agendas, and gossip which could undermine others with differing views. One of their explicitly stated rules for their life together is “No Secrets”. With this instruction and guidance firmly in place, the church has now become much healthier. Trust has been rebuilt within the congregation, and between the church leaders.
Jesus reminds his disciples that everything will eventually become exposed. Secrets rarely remain secrets forever. He points towards the day when whispered secrets will be shouted from the mountaintops. Our Lord’s words seem prophetic of our time, when nothing can be covered up or erased forever with modern technology. Many people have had to step down from important positions, as their secrets are exposed to the light of public scrutiny.
With this knowledge, we are reminded that our public words and actions must line up with what we do in the privacy of our homes. What you see in the mirror is a reflection of who you truly are. Would you want the world to see that reflection? I hope so. There is no one way mirror with the Lord, for He sees everything.
Jesus saw the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and wanted us to avoid it in our own lives. Therefore, let us seek to be good disciples by avoiding the kind of secrecy which can lead to sin. As Paul reminds us in his first letter to the church at Corinth, “Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.” (First Corinthians 13: 6).
Gracious and loving God,
Help me to stay within Your will, never crossing the line into deceit. Keep me from unwise words and actions I will later regret. Forgive me when life does not reflect integrity. May I bring glory to you, and be honest and forthright and open in all that I do. Whether in private or public, may I bring honor to You. I pray this prayer in the name of Your son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.