Jesus used His most severe language on the religious leaders of His time, the scribes and Pharisees. They read the Scriptures, attended worship, gave a tithe, were separated from the world, led moral lives, and sought to win others to their faith. So may one do all these things today and still not know the Lord. Our Lord dealt gently with the woman taken in adultery, though He did not condone her sin. He called one tax collector to be a disciple and ate in the home of Zacchaeus. These people were outcasts in the eyes of the religious leaders, yet Jesus said to those leaders, “. . . the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31). Nothing is more despicable in His sight than hypocrisy, play-acting, presenting an image of righteousness without reality. This is form without force—everything in the show window but nothing in the shelves.
An Irishman came to America and lived here for a year before his wife came to join him. “Don’t these people talk funny?\” she remarked when she arrived. He replied, “If you think they talk funny now, you should have heard them when I came over a year ago!” We grow accustomed to conditions, and Christians may get used to the language and life of this world until what once surprised us becomes an accepted part of our lives.