Jesus taught against hypocrisy.
Matt. 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
This sounds simple, but what should we do when the log in our own eye is not completely our fault? What should we do when the log in our eye is due to a temporary lapse of judgement? Genesis contains a story that illustrates how easily we can fall into hypocrisy.
Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. One day, Isaac decided to bless Esau. Rebekah persuaded Jacob to pretend to be Esau so that Isaac would bless Jacob instead of Esau.
Gen. 27:5 ¶ Rebekah was listening while Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game to bring home,
Gen. 27:6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying,
Gen. 27:7 ‘Bring me some game and prepare a savory dish for me, that I may eat, and bless you in the presence of the LORD before my death.’
Gen. 27:8 “Now therefore, my son, listen to me as I command you.
Gen. 27:9 “Go now to the flock and bring me two choice young goats from there, that I may prepare them as a savory dish for your father, such as he loves.
Gen. 27:10 “Then you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat, so that he may bless you before his death.”
This tells us that this plan was Rebekah’s idea; however, the following verses show that Jacob clearly participated in the plan.
Gen. 27:15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
Gen. 27:16 And she put the skins of the young goats on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck.
Gen. 27:17 She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob.
Gen. 27:18 ¶ Then he came to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?”
Gen. 27:19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn;
Rebekah’s plan worked and Isaac blessed Jacob, but Jacob had to flee in order to escape Esau’s wrath. As you read the following account of what happened to Jacob after he fled, keep in mind that Jacob deceived his father into giving the blessing to him instead of his brother, but also keep in mind that the deception was not his idea.
Notice the phrase “he related to Laban all these things”.
Gen. 29:13 ¶ So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things.
Jacob told Laban about the events that had brought him there. Laban was convinced that Jacob was a relative and Laban also probably understood that Jacob would be there for a while.
Gen. 29:14 Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.
Gen. 29:15 ¶ Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?”
Here we see Laban being fair with Jacob. Since Jacob was going to be there for a while, Laban offered to pay Jacob for his labor.
Gen. 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Gen. 29:17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.
Gen. 29:18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Jacob made it very clear that he was serving seven years for Rachel by asking for Rachel by name. The text also makes it clear that Leah had a problem with her eyes, implying that she was not beautiful and perhaps not likely to attract a husband.
Gen. 29:19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.”
Gen. 29:20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
Gen. 29:21 ¶ Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.”
Gen. 29:22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast.
Gen. 29:23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her.
Jacob had spent seven years working for Rachel. Laban was clearly being deceitful when he gave him Leah instead of Rachel. Since Leah had weak eyes, it is possible that Laban was afraid he would not be able to find a husband for Leah, and Laban may have thought that this was his best opportunity to marry her off. You could also argue that Laban was looking out for Leah’s best interests when he deceived Jacob into marrying her because Leah needed a husband to provide for her after Laban died. However, none of this changes the fact that Jacob had worked seven years for Rachel and Laban deceitfully gave him Leah instead of Rachel.
Now notice how Jacob reacted when he learned it was Leah.
Gen. 29:24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid.
Gen. 29:25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?”
Jacob was correct that Laban had deceived him; however, Jacob had deceived his father. Just as Jacob had pretended to be Esau, so too Laban pretended to be giving Rachel to Jacob. Was Jacob justified in criticizing Laban for doing to him what Jacob had done to his father, or was Jacob being hypocritical? Does it matter that Jacob’s deception was actually his mother’s idea?
Gen. 29:26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn.
Gen. 29:27 “Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.”
Gen. 29:28 Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife.
Gen. 29:29 Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid.
Gen. 29:30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.
The Bible clearly teaches against hypocrisy.
Rom. 2:1-3 ¶ Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
Rom. 12:9 ¶ Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
1Pet. 2:1-3 ¶ Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
The story of Jacob illustrates how easy it is to fall into hypocrisy. It was not Jacob’s idea to deceive his father, and if his mother had not conceived the plan, the deception probably would not have happened. However, Jacob went along with the deception and he did his part to make it successful. When Jacob reacted indignantly to being deceived by Laban, he was correct that Laban was wrong, but he was also being hypocritical because Jacob had done the same exact thing to his father. The fact that deceiving his father was his mother’s idea and the fact that it would have been difficult to refuse his mother’s idea did not change the fact that Jacob had done to his father exactly what Laban did to him.
As we go through our lives, we need to be on the alert against deceit and hypocrisy. Just as Jacob was persuaded to be deceitful, so too it is easy for us to fall into deceitfulness. And just as Jacob did not like being deceived, so too we do not like to be deceived. If we want to be free of hypocrisy, we need to be vigilant and make sure we are not persuaded into being a hypocrite.
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