Is it not easier to hide who we are than who we are not?
- To disguise our selfishness is but the work of a moment, whereas the lack of a generous spirit is too big a void to conceal.
- To covet a neighbor’s position can be mostly contained within, but a failure to rejoice spontaneously in a friend’s success creates a loud silence.
- To talk big about prayer and pray big in public can, like a rug over swept-up dirt, mostly hide the fact that we do not pray quietly in private, but it is not a very good cover up for a long distance relationship with God.
Is this not the way of the Pharisee Jesus exposed so devastatingly? Honoring with lips may hide arrogance for a time, but having a heart devoid of God is the dead’s giveaway. Tithing mint and dill and cummin may seem like a proper display of righteousness, but a failure to exercise justice, mercy and faith for the poor screams out that you are not compassionate. Cleaning the outside of the cup (shining up our reputation, our interests, our promotions) looks pretty good at the right angle, but life has a way of tipping the cup and showing that the inside (our heart, our soul, our mind) is caked over with self-indulgence and evil desires. Have you not experienced times when you thought you were doing well because you were avoiding the “nots” of the Ten Commandments, only to realize you forgot they are fulfilled with the “doings” of love? Call that getting in touch with your “inner” Pharisee.
Our lifetime of practice makes us great actors on stage at hiding what we are. The unexpected intrusion of uninvited company into our dressing rooms reveals what we are not.
Thankfully the Lord not only exposes but offers. That offering is what the psalmist found after he stopped trying in a wrong-headed way to cover or hide his sin. “You are my hiding place,” he said to the Lord in Psalm 32. O the paradox that is the gospel! When we lose self, He saves. When we say we are blind, we see. What we are not, Jesus is. When we stop hiding with fig leaves, He hides us with blood.
We are most hidden when we are exposed for what we are not.