Woe unto you hypocrites!

A turning point for me was at convention one year hearing an older, a brother, highly esteemed proclaimed there were no Pharisees within the group; they were all “out there in the religious world”. Just like that, the thought occurred, “I am a Pharisee!” That was the first time I had ever acknowledged such a thing. It was startling and gave me much to think about. Immediately I read Matthew 23 where Jesus zeroed in on the Scribes, Pharisees and hypocrites big time and reading through those verses, I knew indeed that I was a Pharisee and so were a good number of people in the fellowship. It was a disturbing thought and yet it explained so much at the same time.

Admitting To being a Pharisee was one thing but a hypocrite as well? Wow! That really sounded and felt awful. Through the years since I have, unfortunately, seen areas of this trait in myself and a great deal of hypocrisy within the meeting system. Recently, under the post titled “I doubt it” a comment made by Craig Young in which he gave a very clear picture of some of the hypocrisy in the system that he has observed in his lifetime. I want to add my observations here as well.

A hypocrite says one thing but does another. Needing the approval of others seems often to be the motivator for hypocrisy and many of the group’s views on things and/or beliefs/rules continually perpetuates the hypocrisy.

For instance…

  • Saying there are no rules, when in reality there were many subliminal rules to adhere to.
  • Saying there is unity in the fellowship when there is division on issues from one area to another; even one region, state or country from another.
  • Claiming the workers go out just like the original twelve disciples when in reality they are not at all. I often would justify those verses in Matthew 10 by saying, “that was then and this is now” for such things as healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing those who have leprosy, driving out demons because I wasn’t doing any of those things. I may have entered the Work with no money of my own (I gave it all away) but Jesus said to take no money with you period. I did in the form of stuff I said I needed. So the words about not taking a bag or extra clothes or shoes or providing anything for yourself was also explained away. My co-worker and I moved from house to house justifying it by saying, ‘that was then and this is now.’ I didn’t bless the homes when I entered them, in fact I constantly worried about what to say or how to say it.
  • The claim of the fellowship existing since Jesus was here on the earth, when in reality it was started in the late 1800’s.
  • As a worker, I would feel like a hypocrite when I would explain to a “stranger” why we believed such and such (I had verses written down in the back of my Bible that I had gleaned from older co-workers on what to say) because I knew I was twisting Scripture most of the time and my stomach was in knots because it wasn’t my conviction; it was someone else’s. (And who knows if even he/she was truly convicted of it!)
  • Having to tell couples or individuals in a divorced/remarriage situation that we could have a meal with them and spend time in their home with them but “it would be best if we didn’t spend the night” because I had been told at a workers meeting that we couldn’t stay with them because that was sending the message that we condoned their situation. In my heart, I knew that was 100% wrong and NOTHING like what Jesus would have done.
  • Listening to a brother worker tell a young girl who wanted to be baptized that he would not baptize her because she wasn’t currently wearing nylons. (I’m serious! She was in her own home besides) Why? “Because we have a standard.”
  • Watching individuals being passed over during communion because they were divorced/remarried when I knew there was someone in that meeting who had an addiction to pornography or someone else who had lied on their taxes or someone like me who had committed adultery in their heart. When we as a group decided who was worthy to partake, when the reality was no one was worthy.

I went back and read Matthew 23 again and verses that stuck out to me this time were:

Verse 5 “Everything they do is done for men to see.”
Verse 13 “You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.”
Verse 23 “You have neglected the more important matters…”
Verse 28 “You appear to be righteous.”

I highly recommend “The 12 steps of a recovering Pharisee” by John Fischer. It will make you laugh and seriously reflect at the same time. The first time I read it I pointed fingers at others all the way through. I read it a second time and all the fingers pointed back at me. I have read Matthew 23 many times and pointed fingers and that very fact is proof that I was indeed a Pharisee and a hypocrite.

There is hope though! After all those scalding words recorded in Matthew 23, Jesus tells them how he still feels about them. He longed to gather them to his heart; to have them close to him. He had by no means given up on them. Paul was a big time Pharisee but he let go of all of it to follow Jesus. Christians are made fun of worldwide for being called hypocrites because others are not blind like we are sometimes.

May we let the Holy Spirit refine our spirits, our inner lives, our character; make them clean and holy. May we be genuine through and through and take responsibility when we are not. May we do everything as unto the Lord. May we truly reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in every part of our lives.

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15 thoughts on “Woe unto you hypocrites!

  1. Darla, I thank God for your gift to express straight from the heart what God has revealed to you. It was a somewhat frightening experience when I began to reject many of the things I had been taught for over 30 years as the spirit dealt with me and I chose to read the bible without the influence of others. I also understand quite well the struggles Becky is facing. And understand her fear of “false hirelings” and church buildings. Unfortunately there is no emphasis made in the fellowship regarding the tremendous amounts of money needed to support the convention grounds. And instead of 1 pastor for a church of 500 or more you’ll find 8 to 10 workers for the same number of members. My guess is that there is actually more money being poured into the 2×2 fellowship than there is in a “false church”. It’s small intentional omissions and deceptions that keep a fellowship of people in bondage. It is my hope that others who feel otherwise might actually take the time to consider this with an honest heart.

    Like Dennis and Jane my only option was to leave a system that refused to fully acknowledge and teach the simple message of Christ without the “add-ons”. When fellowship became dry and empty I knew I needed to find a source of rich fellowship. I don’t attend an organized church but I certainly enjoy fellowship with others who love Jesus and it’s a beautiful thing!

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  2. Another great post, Darla!
    You will have to make a book of your writings some day!
    I was reading the replies and want to add my little thought about the “hireling” that Becky mentioned about.
    In Matt 10:12 it says …but he that is an hireling and not the Shepherd,whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming ,and leaveth the sheep,and fleeth;and the wolf catcheth them ,and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling and careth not for the sheep
    These words popped out at me one day when I read them…
    The hireling DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE SHEEP! He is only doing a job!
    It is not about LOVE for the sheep…
    I feel this is about those who “offend” the sheep and cause them to scatter,those who are in “authority” who make decisions based on pride or popularity and not by the Holy Spirit….,certainly not motivated by true love for the sheep…
    But we are thankful that we know The True Shepherd….The One who really cares for the sheep, who even gave His Life for the sheep

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  3. Becky, so good to hear from another soul who has been struggling in the fellowship. I was going to ask Darla what approach, if any, has worked in reaching friends and family in the system. Well, based on your post, I have my answer. Just Darla sharing her experience straight from the heart. I will continue doing the same!

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  4. I’ve not heard of John Fischer but sounds like I should pick it up. Never before had I read books by Christian authors (made to believe they were false doctrine) never listened to Christian CD’s or music (no radio) never watched a sermon (no TV). Now I’ve seen God use those very things to give me a clearer understanding. He works through all things! Because He is God! I’ve since strongly desired to utilize everything I can to know him deeper. (Even bible versions other than King James). The new found peace and security I have with God Almighty has filled me! I see my friends and family in the meetings (like those verses say) appearing to being righteous yet neglecting the important matters, etc. All the while I love them dearly. My heart breaks at what they’re missing, but I can’t let it steal the joy God has given me. The posts on this blog recomfirm that God has children that strive to let Him work fully in their lives! I thank each of you all for allowing God’s character shine through! ❤

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  5. Darla, thank you for your wonderful blog. I have been lurking from the shadows and just now have found the nerve to respond to them. As someone who is still “inside ” the meetings and feeling spiritually starved and disappointed, I find your words to be bread and inspiration. Let me clarify my disappointment …. Its Not in Christ but in the whole meeting system. I LOVE those I have fellowship with But I keep feeling that there has got to be more ! I have been dealing with a lot of spiritual things lately and have been seeing Jesus as something that is a whole lot bigger than the little box we tend to put him in. I have appreciate too the replies that others have posted to your posts. They have been quite helpful to me too!! So please everyone, keep posting, I need your input on these issues too! You are gifted my dear friend, with the ability to so clearly and sweetly to express your thoughts …… I anxiously await for more.

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    • Becky, you are not alone. I believe there are hundreds of us who sincerely starve and are frustrated and disappointed. There are also hundreds who would look upon us and tell us we are “offended”. Once your eyes have been opened to beautiful Truth, you see and realise so much, and it’s very easy to judge oneself unfairly in this regard…as you may already know, there are others standing next to you ready with judgement..why join them? I often think of a baby being born, coming from the dark womb into the bright world, and seeing everything with open eyes. It’s the same for us who have experienced this spiritual rebirth. Yes, we have good friends, emotional attachments since dot one, and wonderful fellowship outside of the formal meeting, and sometimes we feel it striving to flourish in a meeting. All of that can stay the same because it’s based on love and acceptance. The struggle is between the system (a self-righteous man-made thing) and the blissful spiritual love (God’s work) that we now feel within ourselves and for every other person on the planet! I am also loving Darla’s blog, and read weekly and when I feel inspired like right now, I add my feelings to it too. You have many friends and much support. Keep focused on that.

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    • Welcome to a fellowship of those looking for a deeper relationship with Christ, Becky! This is a wonderful place to be open, honest, and learn to lay aside false doctrine. You will thrive, spiritually.

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    • Becky my friend,
      I am so thankful you came in out of the shadows! Your words were powerful, kind and heart felt. Your comments have already reached the hearts of others, so keep sharing. Your support of what I am doing here means a great deal to me; we’ve come a long ways from that first eyebrow plucking bonding!!

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      • Darla, I think of you and our eye brow plucking experience in the early 1970’s everytime I pluck!! Remember it as if it was just yesterday ! :). Just a word to say thank you for all the kind words in response to my post yesterday. I don’t want to take the focus off your postings Darla but if there is one thing I still have a hard time with as far as leaving the meetings is the “hireling” issue . I feel like sending out the ministers in 2’s is scriptural and what Jesus taught . Paying some one to preach and having to make a Mortgage payment on a church building seems like bondage to me. I’d sure appreciate others opinions on this issue. Thanks!

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        • I’ve gone through that same concern myself Becky. When I was totally honest with myself I noticed I was bound to money. The church I attended this morning (I recently moved) almost forgot to pass the offering plate, when he remembered, he told us if we feel obligated to give then we definitely should not. Now that God has awakened me I yearn so deeply to hear the Good News that nothing else matters!! I like what a dear older lady of my last wonderful church told me, “you can give without loving but you can’t love without giving”. So true! Not only on giving to the church but giving and serving others. It’s all for the glorious work our Heavenly Father is accomplishing here on earth! ❤ in all

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      • Darla, you are too funny. But a good writer and friend. I love your insight and your thoughtful and honest writing. Loved the “Middle Miles” thoughts. Still mulling that one over.

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  6. Darla, as usual, you have nailed it with this one!! Matt. 23 has been the most profound reading for Dennis and I for a number of years now. Sometimes when I read it now, I have to wonder how I could have been so familiar with the words and yet missed the real meaning for all those years!! We too have read “Twelve Steps…” more than once and realized just now that once again we seem to have given away the last of our multiple copies and so I need to order another one. We were given our first copy by a (former) brother worker. Over the years since, we have re-read it, discussed it with others, and have sent copies to some folks with whom we discussed it. Everyone finds it eye-opening!! I believe it was Fischer who wrote, “All I need to do to know what a Pharisee looks like is to go have a look in the mirror!” How true! When you describe the actions you witnessed it all comes back again so clearly. We saw and heard the very same things. It is why our consciences literally drove us out of the group. When/if the group ever gains a clear understanding of Jesus words in Matt. 23, surely there will be positive change. But unless and until…….all we can do is vote with our feet……which is what we did. Although it has been a lonely road at times, we have clear consciences and no regrets. The spiritual “heartburn” is a thing of the past. We aren’t trying to live up to any man’s “standard”. Darla, you are gifted with an ability to put into words simply and eloquently what so many of us see and feel, but lack the ability to properly convey. Keep writing!

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