We’ve all been guilty of this at one point or another: We pull into the church parking lot with our presentation looking just right. We’re dressed in our Sunday’s best with a nice sharp outfit that is only reserved for weddings and church. We have a Bible tucked under our arm, just in the right position. We exit our vehicle with a nice big smile, ready to greet others as we head to the church building, or in 2020, the tent. Our kids are looking sharp, at least as sharp as we can make them. We look just right, our spirituality just oozing from our pores.
But yet our hearts are in a mess. We just had a fight with our spouse this morning and we haven’t said a word to him/her the entire car ride. We didn’t have any devotional time this morning, namely because the football game last night went until midnight and we are feeling in a bad mood because our team lost. Or, in a worse scenario, we’ve lived our entire week with little thought of God or our walk with him and as a result, our co-workers would be surprised to hear that we were showing up at church this Sunday morning.
This same type of scenario is not new to our generation. No, in our reading today in Zachariah 7 the Lord confronted His people about this same type of hypocrisy. In verse 5 we read, “Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?” He then goes on in following verse to stress that He wanted to treat others and, “oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.” (vs 10). However, the Israelites “refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.” (vs 11).
So while they were careful to observe many of the feasts and fasts, i.e. religious services, their hearts were far from God. In other words, they looked good on the outside yet their hypocritical hearts were an offence to God. This is a good reminder for us as well. Does God want us in church? Absolutely. Should we care about our presentation at these services? Sure. But far more important to the Lord is our hearts. Let’s be careful not to be guilty of the same type of hypocrisy that characterized the nation of Israel many years ago but give attention to the state of our hearts, not just what our outside appearance looks like.