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When young children wish to insult one another, it’s not uncommon for them to call each other various unlikable names. A fight or scuffle of some sort is often the result. The truth is adults don’t like being called names, either; and, the more serious the context or the meaning of the "name", the greater is the offense that is likely to be taken. Oddly, that offense is likely even if the "name" is appropriate.

Take the name "hypocrite", for example. To call someone such a thing may result in immediate defense of one’s character. However, Jesus wasn’t slow nor shy to lay that name upon any who seemed to earn it. Once upon a time, being a hypocrite was a profession. This is what play actors used to be called as they portrayed characters in a story script. In very literal terms, they were pretending to be what they really were not, and, the more believable they made their character appear, the better their performance was regarded to be.

Eventually, the name of "hypocrite" was applied in a figurative manner to anyone who was not genuine, but rather was simply trying to appear to be something they really were not, nor wanted to be. As time wore on, acting performers were no longer known as hypocrites, and what used to be a figurative application of the word came instead to be the recognized literal, and, now, hardly anyone would appreciate being known as one.

At Matthew chapter twenty-three, Jesus compared the hypocrites of His day to dirty dishes whose clean exteriors seemed to give no hint of the filth inside. The Lord called for the insides to be as clean as the outsides; a figurative lesson regarding what the people should do for their spiritual lives.

However, He also compared them to the graves of the dead which appeared to have attractive exteriors, hiding the corruption inside. Since a grave is a permanent fixture, the Lord may have been indicating that many of the hypocrites of His day would never change; rather, they’d simply continue living their lives only pretending to have spiritual interests, while in fact they had no spiritual interests at all.

Yes, adults, like children, often take great offense when unpleasant names are applied to them, and to retaliate against whoever gave them that name isn’t uncommon. However, a better reaction might be to stop and examine one’s self to discover if there be any justifiable reason that the name was given. To wash those dirty dishes Jesus talked about is far more honorable than living with the filth while trying to both defend and disguise the condition.


Written and performed by: David Hayes Prophater