The Shell of Death: Concerning Hypocrisy
by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
How beautifully our people in the Balkans decorate eggs. The
more beautifully to decorate Easter. To increase the joy of Pascha. To make
their guests more happy. Sometimes the colored eggs are truly art. If the
colored eggs are let to stand too long, they become rotten inside, and give off
an unbearable odor, or at the end completely dry up.
That is when the colored shell holds within itself death.
More dreadful is Jesus picture of the hypocrites who are
like "whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but
inside are full of dead mens bones and all uncleanliness." (Matthew
"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds
before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father
who is in Heaven." (Matthew 6:1)
The righteousness which is beloved by God, as Jesus revealed
on the Mount is as follows: mercy, prayer, trust and faith in God as the only
Master, not worrying about tomorrow, seeking before anything else the Kingdom of
God, having faith that you shall receive from God that which you ask Him for,
that you will find that which you seek, that you will open a closed door; and
also: not to judge with a sharp judgement, and not to measure with a false
measurement, so that it is not returned to you likewise; do not seek for the
speck in your brothers eye, while hypocritically hiding the beam in your own
eye; doing unto your fellow man everything you would wish him to do unto you;
not being afraid of the narrow, but pure and holy path, which leads unto life,
but taking flight from the smooth and wide path which leads to death; giving
good fruits to God your Host, who planted you like a good tree; not becoming
proud of your great deeds, but doing everything, "According to the will of
My Father Who is in Heaven"; fulfilling in deed, all of Christs words,
and in that way, building the house of your eternity as a wise man, who builds
his house not on sand, but on rock, so that neither flood waters, nor winds, nor
storms can harm it. (Matthew 6,7) The Pharisees, scribes, and hypocrites, do
everything the opposite of these Words and wisdom of God. When they give alms,
they do it in meeting places and on the streets, and they dont do it for the
glory of God, nor to help the poor, but only to be seen by men.
When they pray to God, they pray on the streets, again, only
to be seen by men.
When they fast, they make their faces look sad, and unkempt,
and pale, again so they can be seen by men. Alas, they do everything only to be
seen by others, as allegedly being merciful, prayerful, and great fasters.
They do all this, and do it today, for two reasons: that they
may receive from men gloryand money. With God, they do not even reckon with,
as if He doesnt even exist. In truth, hypocrites are the most ultimately
godless men. Deceived people give them what they want, and that is their pay in
full. From God, they have nothing to await, because they have not indebted Him
with any of their deeds, but have only incurred His wrath.
They have "drawn near to Me with their mouths, and with
their lips honor Me, but their heart is far from Me." (Isaiah 29:13)
If they are not abiding by the will of God the Father, then
they are abiding by the will of "the father of all lies." The father
of all lies, the devil, taught them that , it is normal, natural, and reasonable
to do so, and that others before them also did likewise, and lived nicely,
having received from men glory and riches. That is the trodden down path of the
world, and they should not go down that path, in spite of the world. They,
wretched as they are, do not feel how much Satan has deceived them with such
lies, and how much he has polluted and dried up their hearts that even angels of
God turn their faces from the stench of their souls.
All their outward, fixed-up appearance, is only a colored
shell of death, a whitewashed tomb. When it comes to them, that which we call
death, alas, all that really comes to them is the confirmation and seal of their
already long past, dead soul.
But you, do not be like the hypocrites, Christ taught the
people. Do not be like the hypocrites when you give charity, "But when you
do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is
doing." (Matthew 6:2,3)
Do not be hypocrites when you pray to God. "But you, when
you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your
Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will
reward you openly." (Matthew 6:5-13)
Do not be like the hypocrites when you fast. "But you,
when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to
men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your
Father will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:16-18) "For there is
nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but
that it should come to light." (Mark 4:22)
God will reveal to you great secrets at a time when you do not
expect it. The prophets and righteous knew this, but the scribes and Pharisees
did not, and still dont.
The prophets and righteous feared God, and loved their own
people, while the Pharisees and scribes, the hypocrites, do not fear God, and
hate their own people.
Jesus feels compassion for His people, to tears He feels
compassion for them, whom the Chief Priests and Rulers deceive, abuse, and take
advantage of mercilessly. (Matthew 15: 32 ) In His previous sermon, Christ
openly makes war against their hypocrisy. (Mark 8:2)
As the Son of God dwelled amongst men, and time passed, He
increases this war against hypocrisy, abasing it, and the hypocrisy of the
religious rulers of that time, abasing them before their very faces, and in
front of all His people.
He never abased any sinners as much as He abased the
hypocrites. Finally, Jesus abasement of hypocrisy, near the end of His
earthly stay, turned into dreadful thundering, which literally startled. It
shouldnt surprise those who know, that Jesus did not speak to only one
generation, the one during His time, but to all generations to the end of time.
While He abased the Jewish hypocrites face to face, He abased
all hypocrites of all times and all generations.
Why did Jesus strike so sharply and mercilessly specifically
on hypocrisy? It is because hypocrisy is a Satanic lie, Satanic hypocrisy from
the beginning; that is the weed that Satan has sown in all of God's crops on
the earth: in man's heart, in his home, in his wedlock, in his company of
friends, in his people and nation, in politics and trade, in sadness and in joy,
everywhere, in all ages and civilizations. Not one civilization succeeded in
rooting out the weed of hypocrisy, but that weed rooted many of them out. If one
civilization shone with glory outwardly, like the European and Japanese, that
does not mean that they destroyed hypocrisy, but only that they hid it more
skillfully underneath their shell on which was not written the name of Jesus
Christ as it is written on Paschal eggs in the Balkans. Rather, theirs read:
courtesy, manners, sophistication, words the demons are not afraid of, and the
weed of hypocrisy, unhindered, grows rampant.
Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, announced at the
beginning two wars: against Satan, and against hypocrisy. The people loved Him,
and honored Him with tremendous God fearing respect, as their Savior. "For
He taught them as One having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew
From the Complete Works of Bishop Nikolai [in Serbian],
Book 12, p. 825. Translated from the Serbian by Marija
Miljkovic. Sent to the Orthodox Christian Information Center by Fr.