Hear this, you who trample on the needy
and bring the poor of the land to an end,
saying, “When will the new moon be over,
that we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
that we may offer wheat for sale,
that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great
and deal deceitfully with false balances,
that we may buy the poor for silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals
and sell the chaff of the wheat?”
The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4-7 ESV
[Jesus said:] “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Matthew 23:23-28 ESV
Uriah Heep worked for David Copperfield’s friend, Mr. Wickfield. He always pretended to be humble and devoted to his employer, and acted like a good worker who did all of his work well. But inside, Uriah Heep was very different. He didn’t care about his employer at all. Instead, he was greedy for money, so he used his job to get the advantage over Mr. Wickfield. He got more and more power over him and cheated him out of a lot of money. People who seem to be good on the outside but are bad on the inside are called hypocrites, and Uriah Heep, in the story of David Copperfield, is a good example of a hypocrite.
God spoke to the people of Israel through his prophet Amos, because they also were hypocrites. They observed the Sabbath laws, and they might have looked as if they were good people who loved and served the Lord. But actually they were very different inside. They wished they didn’t have to bother with the Sabbath day. They couldn’t wait for it to be over, so they could back to their business of making money. They weren’t honest in the way they made money, either. They cheated people by using dishonest weights and scales, and they took advantage of the poor people. God judged them for this behavior and warned them of the punishment they would get. He could see past their good Sabbath behavior into their hearts, and knew what secrets were hiding there.
The religious leaders in Jesus’ time were also hypocrites. They looked as if they loved God and were good at keeping his laws, but Jesus saw into their hearts and saw all the sin that was there. They obeyed many of God’s rules, but they didn’t follow God’s ways by showing people mercy and justice. Jesus can see into our hearts as well. He sees all our mean and selfish thoughts and the ways we are greedy or want to hurt others. We might act as if we are good and nice, but inside we hide many things from other people. Yet even though God sees what’s inside us, he loves us. That’s why Jesus came. He died on the cross to pay for all our sins, even the secret ones no one else knows about. Jesus gives us his forgiveness, and sends us his Holy Spirit to give us new lives and hearts that follow and love him.
Dear Jesus, please forgive all our sins and help us to follow your ways. Amen.
Dickens, Charles David Copperfield London: Bradbury and Evans, 1850.