Tag Archives: hypocrites

“Pass the Bread, Fred”

Story of the Day for Labor Day 2012….September 3rd 


“Pass the Bread, Fred”


                  Get rid of all . . . hypocrisy . . .

                                                      1 Peter 2:1



Dr. Foerster’s patient was fully conscious as the German neurosurgeon performed brain surgery to remove a tumor. As Dr. Foerster touched one region of the brain, however, his patient erupted in compulsive pun making. The patient was unable to control his wild word associations.

Arthur Koestler, who mentioned this incident in his book, The Act of Creation, calls Foerster’s Syndrome the inability to refrain from making puns.

I mention this because my college roommate was a jovial guy, but it was obvious that he got dropped on his head when he was a child, because he had Foerster’s Syndrome in a big way. He didn’t learn and retell the puns of others; he was the sole originator and distributor of endless groaners.

Once, one of the college administrators told him bluntly that punning was the lowest form of humor, but this indirect plea for mercy didn’t dampen my roommate’s enthusiasm for punning in the slightest.


Paul, from Elkhart, Indiana, once wrote in to Reader’s Digest about a family dinner. His parents, Fred and Adah, invited Paul and his three siblings for a Sunday meal.

Everyone, except for Adah, was in a silly mood and began rhyming their requests.

“Please pass the meat, Pete.”

“May I have a potatah, Adah?”

“I’d give the moon for a spoon.”

After a while, Adah had heard enough. “Stop this nonsense right now!” she shouted. “It’s Sunday, and I would like to enjoy my dinner with some good conversation, not all this silly chatter.”

Then, in a huff, she snapped, “Pass the bread, Fred.”


The most annoying aspect of criticizing others is when I find myself dropping into the same kind of behavior. When I criticize people for being late for appointments, I will soon find that I’m late for an appointment.  Lately, I confided to my wife that I thought someone was a gossip. I took a minute before I realized that I was gossiping about someone else who gossips.


Now that I’ve recognized my unfortunate habit of acting like a hypocrite, it has, somewhat, tempered my judgmentalism toward others.

The next step Jesus wants me to learn is to be calmer about others – even if I’m never guilty of doing what they do. After all, others have some vices I don’t. For example, I relish the fact that I’ve mustard the strength to resist the impulse to ketchup to my old roommate in the punning department. I just don’t have the hot dog personality he has.

(I can hear my old roommate now, saying, “Marty, let me be frank with you – you’re not very punny!”)

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

The True Danger of Spiritual Pretending

Story of the Day for Tuesday November 8, 2011

The True Danger of Spiritual Pretending

                       A man by the name of Ananias, along with his wife Sapphira, sold some property.  But, with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back part of the money for himself, and brought the rest and laid it at the apostle’s feet.  

                                                    Acts 5:1-2

I have never liked this story.  It seems grossly unfair that, because they didn’t give all their money to the church, God killed them both.  Shouldn’t Peter have said, “Why, thank you so much!  What are generous offering.  God will bless you for this”?  Instead, they both wind up dead as a doornail.

If we listen carefully, however, we discover that the problem is not about giving money at all.  Peter tells them they didn’t have to sell the property, and after they did, they could do what they wanted with the money.

The problem was that they pretended to give all of the money from the sale of their property to the church (but secretly held some back for themselves).  They were lying to the church.

Hypocrisy is lying. We want to impress others and make them think we are more godly than we really are.  We love the admiration we get from this.  But deep down there is the fear that, someday, we will be exposed and the world will know that we are frauds.

Spiritual posturing is a dangerous cancer.  It’s also contagious.  If I pretend I’m holier than I really am, it puts pressure on those around me to pretend they are holier than they really are.  As long as the pretense works – we become insufferably self-righteous.  When we are exposed as frauds, then our hypocrisy becomes a stumbling block to others.

Tony Campolo, in his book, The Kingdom of God Is a Party, tells the story of a young man who turned his back on the church.  His little sister suffered much from cancer before she died.  His dad, a pastor, said there is no sorrow because she is in heaven.  So,  the whole family wore plastered smiles to show the world their great faith.

The night after the funeral, this young man went to the church and sat up in the balcony.   His father was unaware of his son’s presence. His dad walked to the front of the church and began to cry.  The crying turned to uncontrolled wailing.  Then his father looked up at the picture of Christ on the wall, shook his fist, and screamed, “DAMN YOU!”

When the son returned home that evening, there was his dad and family – all wearing their forced, artificial smiles.

I still don’t like the story about Ananias and Sapphira very much.  God’s punishment seems pretty severe.  But maybe that is how forcefully God had to act to impress on me the true danger of spiritual pretending.

                                                                             (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Two Pairs of Pants

Story of the Day for Friday June 17, 2011

Two Pairs of Pants


                 Be careful that you don’t practice your righteousness before people to be seen by them.  For if you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  

                                                                                  Matthew 6:1


Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, has just finished saying we should let our light shine so that people “will SEE our good deeds” and praise the Father in heaven.  Now he says we must not practice our righteousness before people to be SEEN by them.

When you read both these verses side-by-side they seem to contradict each other, don’t they?   Well, not to take away the suspense or anything, but Jesus is not contradicting himself.


When Jesus says we should not do our righteous acts before others to be seen by them, he is talking about showing off.  Don’t be a religious show-off.

The Pharisees loved to be admired for their righteousness.  But it’s no fun being superior to other people if nobody notices.  So, they took pains to call attention to their incredible holiness.  When they gave to the needy, they announced their generosity withy trumpets.  When they prayed they just happened to be reciting their daily prayers on busy street corners.  When they fasted, they would screw up their faces funny so people could see they were fasting.  Not only that, but the early Christians talk about the Pharisees fasting twice a week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  In ancient Palestine, “market day” was – do you want to guess? – Tuesday and Thursday.

Hypocrites are not religious to serve God.  They are really serving themselves.  That is why Jesus is telling us that do the right things for the wrong reason doesn’t count.

But when Jesus tells us to let our light shine so that people will see our good deeds, the focus is not on us, but letting people see the amazing things God does in people.


Once I had to attend a religious meeting, a suit coat and tie kind of meeting.  I drove down to the area the night before.  Since my old car needed frequent care under the hood, I drove in grubby, oily jeans.

It wasn’t until the next morning as I put on my suit and tie that I realized my suit pants did not accompany me on the trip.  So, I raced through town looking for a clothing store.  I grabbed some nice slacks off the rack, paid for them, ran to my car, and put them on in the front seat. I strolled (out of breath) into the meeting looking cool and casual, a fine specimen of formal attire.

Not until after lunch did a brave soul approach me and asked if I realized there were price tags and stickers hanging from my butt.

Those two pairs of pants have become a metaphor of the extremes I need to avoid in life.  I don’t want to be grubby with sin and leave oil stains everywhere I sit.  On the other hand, I don’t want to be proud of how new and clean my pants are, and strut around with the tags on.

When you let your light shine, make sure people are looking to the source.

                                           (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)