The Lord tells us that all such things as the unrighteous desire to conceal, and such things as it is a pain to the righteous to have concealed, shall come out into the light. “Beware of hypocrisy,” the Lord says, “for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed, neither hid, that shall not be known.” What is hypocrisy? The desire to look better than you are; the hiding of things you do, because you would be ashamed to have them known. The doing of them is foul; the hiding of them, in order to appear better than you are, is fouler still. The man who does not live in his own consciousness as in the open heavens, is a hypocrite—and for most of us the question is, are we growing less or more of such hypocrites? Are we ashamed of not having been open, are we fighting the evil thing which is our temptation to hypocrisy? The Lord has not a thought in him to be ashamed of before God and his universe, and he will not be content until he has us in the same liberty. For our encouragement to fight on, he tells us that those that hunger and and thirst after righteousness shall be filled, that they shall become as righteous as the spirit of the Father and the Son in them can make them desire.
by James House
Liberty, freedom. Free will.
"What was the thing he thus glorified? Liberty to go where you pleased, do what you liked, say what you chose!—that was all. Of inward liberty, of freedom from mental or spiritual oppression, from passion, from prejudice, from envy, from jealousy, from selfishness, from unfairness, from ambition, from false admiration, from the power of public opinion, from any motive energy save that of love and truth—a freedom of which outward freedom is scarce the shadow—of such liberty, for all the good books he had read, for all the good poems he had admired, Richard had not yet begun to dream, not to say think."
(from There and Back)
The liberty that comes from obedience is often laid in contrast to the captivity that results from sin. One of the strongest and most obvious examples being that if you steal, then you are likely to end up in prison; but many other less obvious examples can be given, all leading to the reduction of future choices (lessened liberty) due to the lack of obedience. Many claim that God's commandments are constraining, however we are not compelled, only invited to follow them. And when we do, and to the extent that we do, we are liberated.
Know This, That Every Soul Is Free
Know this, that ev’ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he’ll be;
For this eternal truth is giv’n:
That God will force no man to heav’n.
He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.
Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav’n or hell.
May we no more our pow’rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love.
Text: Anon., ca. 1805, Boston.
When we are obedient we are more healthy in mind, spirit and body, and thus able to act and serve in more ways - with greater liberty - than we would otherwise have.
Today's passage from the Unspoken Sermons caries the profound observation "The Lord has not a thought in him to be ashamed of before God and his universe, and he will not be content until he has us in the same liberty". Of course the greatest amount of liberty is experienced by our Lord and God. And perhaps the deepest, most ingrained hindrance to our full liberty is our pride, our self-protection - our desire to not have our faults revealed to our fellows, nor even to our own selves.
These hypocrisies keep us captive to our buried sins, because, as George MacDonald frequently reminds us in his writings, the Lord will not rid us of the sins that we cling to. If we do not acknowledge them as something we abhor about ourselves, then one way or another, consciously or not, we are clinging to them.
Worse, hypocrisy shows a love for untruth, a love for a false reality: one in which one's self is better than one's neighbors - one in which it is important to be better than one's neighbors. One in which motes not only replace beams, but in which beams are altogether ignored. One in which the false reality that was built up to comfort the self image and project a favored image to one's fellows is actually a prison of tumultuous and conflicting burdens. One that requires continual expenditure of energy to maintain.
"Lestrange had never thought whether the wish to appear might not indicate the duty to be; had never seen that, until he was, to desire to appear was to cherish the soul of a sneak" (from There and Back)
"A free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes, but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done, even in the very face of otherwise overwhelming impulse. There lies freedom indeed.” (from Miracles of our Lord)
We may well consider the impulses of hypocrisy - of the need to appear as one is not, of the fear of public opinion - as being overwhelming - even to those of us who know our duty.
To free ourselves of this care for a false self-preservation, which comes at the cost of true self-preservation - no, of self improvement - no!, of progress through the grace of our Lord; even the most humble among us must choose with the force of our free will to love truth above our own pride.
"the only freedom worth the name -- that of heart, and soul, and mind -- is not to be gained except through the hardest of battles." (from The Marquis of Lossie)
Could this be in part, one facet of what the Lord meant when he declared: "he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives" (Luke 4:18)? Certainly we are all captives to hypocrisy - and I am compelled to say that there is no way fully out of this hypocrisy but through the grace of our Saviour. Let truth and reality prevail!
"He is come to free us from everything that makes life less than bliss essential. No other could be a gospel worthy of the God of men." (from Hope of the Gospel)