Photo of a somewhat rusted hypocrisy meter with the needle pointed in the red zone.
A photo of a hypocrisy meter. Photo courtesy of Kaz Vorpal/ Flickr.

Few things rankle us more than hypocrisy. Before casting judgment on others, it is important to remember that the Holy Bible says “As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23).

But in the story of Judah in Genesis 38, Judah’s hypocritical behavior nearly had deadly consequences. 

God killed two of Judah’s three sons for being wicked, one of whom had just married Tamar, leaving her widowed and childless. Judah’s third son was not yet old enough to marry and provide for her, but Judah promised the marriage would occur when his son came of age, sending Tamar back to live with her father until then. 

However, when Judah’s son was grown, the marriage did not come. In desperation, Tamar disguised herself by wearing a prostitute’s veil, and Judah slept with her. Yet when Judah learned that his widowed daughter-in-law was pregnant, his reaction was murderous. “Bring her out and have her burned to death,” he demanded. 

But Tamar had proof that Judah was the father. Judah could have denied the truth. Instead he admitted his hypocrisy and also accepted his responsibility to care for her, saying “she is more righteous than I.”

God wove even this dark chapter of Judah and Tamar’s story into a story of redemption. Their children would become ancestors of Jesus. And as the Bible says, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Why is Genesis 38 in the Bible? One reason is because it’s the story of our hypocritical human hearts — and of God’s heart of love, grace, and mercy. 

A Biblical definition of the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operation of human life. Did you know it is truly a blessing when you can give cheerfully to those in need, and receive cheerfully from those who just might have more than they need?

God gave his one and only begotten son for us. Amen! “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

How do you react when you become aware of your hypocrisy? What would happen if we all became truly transparent with each other. 

Help me to see, Father, that at the heart of the matter, we’re all hypocrites who need your forgiveness. Amen!