Hypocrites! Jesus rebuked the religious leaders with that accusation. Hypocrisy isn’t as obvious as it might seem. These leaders certainly didn’t see themselves that way. Even if our intentions are good, could we be guilty of hypocrisy, too? And what about our parenting? Is the goal to have well-behaved children and, if so, could we be in danger of raising little hypocrites? How does understanding the deeper issues help us avoid this dangerous trap and help us point our children to a genuine relationship with Christ?
Leviticus 5 & 6
How to Stop Raising Little Hypocrites
Leviticus 5 & 6:
Open My Eyes, Lord
Sometimes we find it challenging to read about all the sacrifices and the instructions for them. But it is important to remember as 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable …” Notice those words “all” and “profitable.” God inspired these passages and included them in His Holy Scriptures for a reason. We need to remain faithful and open our hearts to the truths contained in them.
Anytime we are reading a passage that is less exciting to us, we can ask God to show us what He has for us. There are always nuggets if we are willing to dig for them.
The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Ps. 119.18).
Ask Him to help you see, “Is there a command here that I need to obey? Is there a sin I need to forsake? Is there a relationship I need to reconcile? Is there a truth I need to understand?”
With that in mind, notice Leviticus 5.4:
4 ‘Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it—when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.
Sometimes we sin, either by speaking harshly or in some other way, and the Holy Spirit convicts us. What we do at that point is so important. Do we harden our hearts and refuse to repent or are we quick to repent and seek forgiveness from God and others we’ve sinned against?
¹ And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “If a person sins and commits a trespass against the Lord by lying to his neighbor …
Anytime we sin, we’re not just sinning against people, we’re sinning against the Lord.
But I’d like to focus on 5.5:
“And it shall be, when he is guilty in any of these matters, that he shall confess that he has sinned in that thing.”
Even at this point in history, sacrifice alone was not enough. It had to be accompanied by faith, repentance, and obedience.
How does that verse speak to us today?
How many times have we been guilty of doing all the outward acts associated with Christian living and yet in our hearts we were filled with doubt instead of faith? Or gone to church and lifted our hands in worship while there was anger and bitterness in our hearts toward a spouse, family member, co-worker or friend?
Were we just “playing church,” as if that would make us right with God?
How many times have we insisted that our children say “I’m sorry” to a sibling when we knew it was not genuine?
True repentance involves “confession,” that is to agree with God that what we did was sin. It’s more than, merely, saying “I’m sorry,” because I was “caught” or as if it’s some form of penance. It’s about heart change. That is, a change in thinking which leads to a change of actions.
“Hypocrites” is an ugly word, but that’s what Jesus called those who did “religious things” outwardly without true worship from the heart. If that’s you today, go to God, seek His forgiveness and cleansing. Ask Him to make you a true worshiper.
And the next time you’re tempted to tell your child, “Say you’re sorry!” Think about it … are you teaching your child to be a hypocrite? You need to take the time to help him see that what he did was sin. Use the Word of God to share with your child, prayerfully asking God to convict his or her heart.
Saying “I’m sorry,” certainly isn’t the only way we teach our children to be hypocrites. We may inadvertently do so anytime we address behavior without addressing the heart issue behind it.
Let me share an explanation and example from Tedd Tripp’s book Shepherding a Child’s Heart. It’s a little long, but worth taking the time to read it:
The Scripture teaches that the heart is the control center for life. A person’s life is a reflection of his heart. Proverbs 4:23 states it like this: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the well-spring of life.”
The word picture here is graphic. The heart is a well from which all the issues of life gush forth. This theme is restated elsewhere in the Bible. The behavior a person exhibits is an expression of the overflow of the heart.
You could picture it like this. The heart determines behavior. What you say and do expresses the orientation of your heart. Mark 7:21 states: “ … from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, slander, arrogance and folly.” These evils in action and speech come from within—from the heart.
What your children say and do is a reflection of what is in their hearts …
If you are to really help him, you must be concerned with the attitudes of heart that drive his behavior. A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable. Is it not the hypocrisy that Jesus condemned in the Pharisees?
Let’s take a familiar example from any home where there are two or more children. The children are playing and a fight breaks out over a particular toy. The classic response is “Who had it first?” This response misses heart issues. “Who had it first?” is an issue of justice. Justice operates in the favor of the child who was the quicker draw in getting the toy. If we look at this situation in terms of the heart, the issues change.
Now you have two offenders. Both children are displaying a hardness of heart toward the other. Both are being selfish. Both children are saying, “I don’t care about you or your happiness. I am only concerned about myself. I want this toy. My happiness depends on possessing it. I will have it and be happy regardless of what that means to you.”
In terms of issues of the heart, you have two sinning children. Two children are preferring themselves before the other. Two children are breaking God’s law. Sure, the circumstances are different. One is taking the toy that the other has. The other is keeping the advantage. The circumstances are different, but the heart issue is the same—“I want my happiness, even at your expense.”
Your concern is to unmask your child’s sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed. That leads to the cross of Christ. It underscores the need for a Savior. It provides opportunities to show the glories of God who sent his Son to change hearts and free people enslaved to sin.
If this is a new concept, I would encourage you to read Shepherding a Child’s Heart and if you have young children, you might, also, want to read Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard. Ginger takes Tedd’s biblical principles and offers suggestions on how they can be taught and applied with younger children. You’ll find a list of other helpful resources at the bottom of this post, including books on parenting teens and dealing with anger in children.
Another passage that struck me this morning was Leviticus 6.24-30. God is talking about the sin offering. He calls the sacrifice holy, but it wasn’t holy in and of itself. It was holy because it had been dedicated to God, set apart for God’s purpose.
Remember we are to be “living sacrifices,” holy and set apart to God for His purposes (Rom. 12.1), as well. We are not holy because of any inherent goodness in us, but because we have offered ourselves to God.
Today’s Other Readings:
Clean Hands & Pure Hearts
In this Psalm, we see again that we should have “clean hands,” speaking of our outward behavior, but more importantly, we are to have “a pure heart!” The outward behavior should be the fruit of a pure heart. No amount of good behavior can clean up our hearts, only the blood of Jesus can do that. Then we can let His grace work in and through us.
A Teachable Spirit
What a contrast here in Proverbs 9.7-9 between the fool and the wise man or woman. The fool is unteachable and proud, defensive when someone corrects her. The wise person, however, listens to instruction and has a teachable spirit.
This is the last chapter in the first of the four Gospels. It was written by Matthew, the former tax collector. It ends with what we call “The Great Commission.” Jesus was commissioning or sending all of us to:
“‘Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ Amen” (vv. 19-20).
This is a call to do more than just invite someone to church or see them accept the Lord as their Savior. It’s a call to walk alongside them and encourage them to grow and change. You’ll find some great books below to help you as you do, along with the list of parenting resources.
God bless each one of you as you do.
In the coming days, we’ll talk about the need to get the logs out of our eyes, how Islam intends to conquer the West largely through cultural invasion, and about the contagious nature of many sins. We’ll also talk about what it means to preach the gospel to yourself and why it’s so important.
Be sure to sign up here so you won’t miss any of these upcoming daily posts.
Some Good Books to Help You Fulfill the Great Commission Personally:
Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay – This is one of my personal favorites when it comes to learning to share the Gospel.
Out of the Saltshaker & into the World: Evangelism as a Way of Life by Rebecca Manley Pippert
“On Sunday mornings at Grace Community Church, small groups of people gather together in Fundamentals of the Faith classes to use this manual of thirteen lessons, which blends basic biblical truths with personal obedience and service. Many young believers take these classes to grow in their understanding of biblical truths.” Now Fundamentals of the Faith is available to you. With topics ranging from “God: His Character and Attributes” to “The Church: Fellowship and Worship,” this study is ideal to disciple new believers or to realize afresh what it means to believe in Jesus.
Each lesson is loaded with learning tools to help you engage Scripture. There are also links to 13 free downloadable messages by John MacArthur himself, study questions, memory verses, and suggestions for practical application.
If you are a new believer or know someone who is or just want to be better equipped to defend the faith, Fundamentals of the Faith is the perfect resource for establishing a solid biblical foundation for the Christian life.
How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur
The Bible is the Word of life. As such, studying the Bible is crucial to the life and growth of every believer. In this revised work, John MacArthur examines various Scripture passages in the Old and New Testament to answer both the “why” and the “how” questions of Bible study.
How to Study the Bible can be used alongside or apart from the audio series available from Grace to You in either a personal or group study.
Recommended Parenting Books:
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp – I consider this “the primer” on biblical parenting. It will shepherd your heart, too, as you read it.
Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Hubbard – A practical guide to applying biblical principles as you parent young children.
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson – We all need more grace in our own lives and, definitely, in our parenting. It’s only by understand God’s grace that any of us can trust God to help us grow and change.
The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children by Lou Priolo – This is one of my favorite books. It is packed with so much practical advice. It is one of the best resources for helping parents understand how we can actually provoke our children to anger. Lou also has a great chapter on the dangers of a child-centered home.
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, Second Edition by Paul Tripp (on parenting teens) – Have you been looking at the teen years with dread or are you in the middle of them now and need help? Paul can help you see how, rather than an age to fear, it’s an “age of opportunity.”
Get Outta My Face!: How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne (for parents and others working with teens)