Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 28
Focus: Psalm 28:3
“Do not drag me away with the wicked—with those who do evil—those who speak friendly words to their neighbors while planning evil in their hearts.”
There is a category of people whose behavior for some reason we seem to excuse—but God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and the unseen attitudes of their hearts he finds deplorable. Who are they? They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, then another behind your back. Even worse to God than what they say about you is what they think about you in their hearts. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before you are gone, their minds are flooded with ill will toward you.
We call them two-faced; the Bible calls them hypocrites. And while two-faced people are unpleasant, our culture pretty much excuses their behavior and accepts their ways. Hypocrisy is not a crime, rarely is there any kind of sanction for duplicity and for certain, two-facedness carries no real social stigma. Yet here is One who doesn’t keep quiet about their nasty ways. God’s righteous gaze cuts 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. And truthfully, it is not. Rather, this is an exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:
One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kinds of people David describes in this psalm. Be cautious around them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, watch out: they will ensnare you. So be careful, be very careful!
Being two-faced is not a crime in our culture; there’s not even any real sanction for relational duplicity or social stigma for being hypocritical. But in God’s eyes, people who say one thing to your face and another behind your back “talk a good line of peace then moonlight for the Devil.” (The Message) Be careful around two-faced folk, and most importantly, don’t be one!
And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. Ask God 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.
That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. I hope you will pray that too!
“Next to hypocrisy in religion, there is nothing worse than hypocrisy in friendship.” (Joseph Hall)