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Avoid hypocritical costumes in everyday life

I remember as a young boy having lots of fun dressing up in weird costumes for Halloween - and for other occasions.

Watching my own children put on costumes also brought about a lot of smiles and laughter. They would get all excited about being able to pretend to be someone or something else. My wife entered whole-heartedly into the fun by creating new costumes each year for the Halloween parade down main street in our small Kansas town. In fact, Linda was so good at making costumes that after the kids won the prize for best costume three years in a row, she began overhearing complaints that "That lady always wins."

Linda had the kids dressed as a strong man and a Chinese lady, a knight and a princess on cardboard horses, and a kitty cat and mouse (when Pam and Tim were really little). A lot of creativity went into the making of those costumes. Linda even made a Big Bird costume for Pam that other people copied in following years. The kids loved every minute of wearing the outfits and pretending to be someone or something else.

We wear costumes to have fun. But sometimes we wear costumes to escape who we are, or to pretend to be someone we are not in order to deceive others. Those are not good reasons. Jesus encountered people like that when he walked the earth. He called them hypocrites, because they pretended to be righteous and good people, but in reality - on the inside - they were not. It is important to Him, and therefore important to God, that we be who we say we are. That we mean what we say and say what we mean. Jesus quoted Isaiah Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. God desires that we be open and honest with Him and with others. It is fun to pretend to be something different, if it is just a game. But in real life hypocrisy is not fun and often ends up hurting others. We read the story of the man in Utah who (allegedly) killed his wife because she discovered his secret that he was not going to be a doctor, that he was not who he said he was.

That is why the Bible says Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. - James 4:8 (NLT)

Don't be hypocritical. Take off the masks and just be yourself. It makes living a whole lot easier and fun for everyone.

We are going to have a "Family Fun Festival" at church this Sunday and the kids are going to dress up in costumes and have fun pretending. But everyone else is in on the joke. We all know that it is just for fun. That's the way life ought to be: everyone gets clued in on what is really happening.

- Rev. Dr. Michael B. Hughes is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Sunnyside.

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