“Do not take me away with the wicked, and with workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts.”
Go Deep: There is a whole category of people whose behavior, by and large, we excuse. However, God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and the unseen attitude of their hearts he finds deplorable. They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, but quite another thing behind your back. Even worse in God’s eye than what they say about you behind your back is what they think about you in their heart. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before the conversation ends, their mind is already flooded with ill will toward you.
We might say they are two-faced. The Bible calls them hypocrites. And though we pretty much excuse their behavior and accept their ways in our culture, there is One who doesn’t! God’s righteous gaze cuts right through the syrupy surface of their lives with utter moral clarity and labels the wickedness of their hypocritical hearts, calling them what they truly are: Workers of iniquity.
Now I realize that at this point in your reading you might be thinking this is anything but an encouraging little devotional thought for the day. You are right: This is not a happy little uplifter, this is a deadly serious exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:
One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kind of people David describes in this psalm. Be careful of them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, they will ensnare you. So be careful.
And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. The word “hypocrite” comes from ancient Greece, where it referred to stage actors who wore a mask, representing a character that they were not in real life. (Interestingly, the word for “politician” comes from the same Greek word—so you can do the math on that one!) Now you might think that acting is a difficult art form to master, you’re wrong. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is about the easiest thing in life to be—one who acts one way in a certain situation but an entirely different way in another. And easier still is to perform one way publically but to have thoughts running in the unseen world of your mind that betrays your public front.
So ask God today, and every day for that matter, to keep you from hypocrisy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying one thing but thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought. Integrity means “whole”; the congruence of thought and speech, heart and behavior, beliefs and actions.
That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. Hope you will pray that too!
Just Saying… Joseph Hall said, “Next to hypocrisy in religion, there is nothing worse than hypocrisy in friendship.”