Story of the Day for Monday March 5, 2012
They Can See Right Through Us
When you fast, don’t be like the gloomy-looking hypocrites. They contort their faces so it becomes obvious to everyone that they’re fasting.
Have you ever noticed that people who are trying to look cool don’t really look cool; they look like they’re trying to look cool?
When I order sub sandwiches they have a tip jar at the end of the counter. I like to tip workers, but sometimes they’re attention is turned elsewhere and they don’t see me giving my generous tip. So, I like to wait until they see me – but here’s the trick: I try to make it look like I’m furtively sneaking a tip in their jar yet hoping they’ll notice. That way, they’ll see me as both humble and generous at the same time.
Jesus thinks I’m a poser when I do that, and, of course, he’s right. Posing is a big deal to him because our vanity destroys the most critical attitude of a believer: humility. Only humble hearts receive undeserved gifts. And that’s what Jesus came to give us.
Becoming proud of our humility is an oxymoron. It doesn’t impress God, and, if you must know the dismal truth, it doesn’t impress other people.
Daniel M. Oppenheimer is a cognitive psychologist at Princeton. He published a study about the benefit of using simple language, and entitled it: “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity.” (I found his title a little ironic until I realized this was meant to be humorous; his subtitle says: “Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly”)
Oppenheimer wanted to know if people think we’re more intelligent when we use complicated language rather than using simple words. He found that 86 percent of university students admitted that they deliberately use complicated words in their essays to make their papers sound more valid or intelligent.
His study revealed that, contrary to prevailing wisdom, people do not think you’re more intelligent when you write obscurely – they think you’re less intelligent. In other words, whenever we try to impress others with our intelligence, our attempts backfire. They can see right through us.
Jesus watched the “religious” people as they prayed and gave alms to the poor, and fasted. All of those things are good. But he observed that these people wanted other people to notice and admire their spirituality. Yet, craving attention is not spiritual, so he called it for what it was and warned us not to imitate that kind of hypocrisy.
But, if you still insist on trying to impress people with your spirituality, let me give you a tip: the key is subtlety. And, if you need any help, come with me some day and watch me pay for a sub sandwich.
(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)