When Jesus entered the Temple area and drove out the moneychangers he wasn’t playing around. Their offense outraged him. The religious leaders of the day had allowed the Temple to become a “den of robbers.” But the theft stretched much further than the buying and selling of sacrifices. Something much dearer to God was being stolen. The place he intended to house his holiness and provide the means of communicating with his people had transpired into a habitat of hypocrisy. The Pharisees’ misrepresentations robbed the people from seeing who God really was. Not unlike the fig tree Jesus had just cursed (Mark 11:14)….
Jesus had spotted it right before arriving in Jerusalem. The presence of branches covered with leaves indicated a tree that should have been loaded with figs. But when Jesus approached the tree he found it was barren of any fruit. The tree had “misrepresented” itself, claiming to have something it didn’t. To be something it wasn’t. Just like those Pharisees. By the next day the fig tree had withered. Soon the Pharisees would as well.It’s a warning to be heeded.
I think hypocrisy reigns as one of the worst of sins. It’s a common reason unbelievers give for not coming to the faith. But I doubt many people have as their life aspiration to become a hypocrite. How does it start?
It begins with a lack of honesty. We shade the truth…a little here to keep us from looking bad…a little there because we don’t want to “hurt someone’s feelings.” No doubt driven by insecurities, we justify our sins. We let our consciences fall asleep. But God hates lying, even a little bit.
Deception hurts other people. Donald Miller writes that lying steals from others. It communicates disrespect and dishonor. It tears the fabric of trust. When we don’t keep our word (even when it hurts), we rob others of seeing God’s faithfulness. We cheat them out of tasting the authenticity every human heart longs for.
So if dishonesty is spoiling your fruit, let the Holy Spirit prune you. If your life has become more image than reality, stop pretending. It’s not worth the consequences. You don’t have to wither like that fig tree. Just repent…and produce fruit in keeping with your repentance.