Under the microscope: A look at spiritual hypocrisy

Published 5:57 pm Friday, July 31, 2015

When I was growing up I did not have lots of fancy toys, but I had all I needed to keep me occupied: enough curiosity to find something to investigate even if it meant tearing it apart to see what was on the inside.  There were no electronic devices around the house to consume my time by pressing buttons all day, but there were fields, barns and woods that contained all kinds of mysteries to be discovered.

I recall one device that I had, though, that was of special interest to me—a little microscope.  It came with two boxes of prepared slides that I could look at to observe some fascinating views.  But better yet, I found that I could place all kinds of things under that magnifying device and bring into sight what I could not see otherwise.  It might not have been as glorious as it seemed at the time, but it was amazing to a country boy whose world was quite small.

Little did I know that years ahead I would be employed in a field that allowed me to use microscopes that were more complex and powerful.  I worked many years in the water and wastewater industries and one of my tasks was microscopic examinations of wastewater.  A lot becomes visible in just one eyedropper of contaminated water when it is put under the magnification of a microscope; there are more things crawling around in there than the naked eye has access to.

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During His time on earth, Christ was often under the watchful examination of His critics.  Those critics were usually made up of corrupt religious leaders who, in their jealousy, sought ways to discredit and destroy Christ and His mission.

Luke 11 gives this insight regarding their plot:  “When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose Him fiercely and to besiege Him with questions, waiting to catch Him in something He might say”  (11:53-54, New International Version).  Yet even in their close examination of His words and actions, they turned up no fault in Him.

If put under that kind of scrutiny, none of us would be able to come through it with the flawlessness that Christ exhibited, yet we can follow His example and allow Him to help us become more like Him every day.

While under the microscope of His critics, He warned His followers to be aware of something that we need to be on our guard against today:  hypocrisy.

He told them to “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).  Many of the Pharisees, or religious leaders of that day, were corrupt.  They knew how to put on a most pious and impressive outer appearance, while their hearts were far from God.  Christ could see through their hypocrisy; He could see that they were pretenders who lacked the genuine love of God in their hearts.

Every drop of water looks essentially the same to the naked eye, but when magnified and looked at deeply even what appears to be clear and clean can be identified as what it really is—contaminated.  Spiritual hypocrisy is much like that; it looks good on the outside, but inwardly it is full of the rottenness of sin.  Thankfully there is a solution available to us:  allowing Christ to work His purity into our lives so that we are genuine in our spiritual claims and not religious pretenders.