by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions
Isaiah 29:13-14 Therefore the Lord said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, A marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."
An ancient story is told of a King of Spain who was to visit a poor country village. Upon hearing of his plan to visit them, the people seemed excited to offer a great celebration that would show their adoration and love for their king. But the villagers didn't have much to offer.
In the midst of their quandary someone proposed that, since so many villagers made their own wines, they might each choose his best wine, and combine them in a barrel to present to the king as a gift from the village. So they did, each wine-maker bringing a flagon with which to fill the barrel. Then, they anxiously awaited the arrival of their sovereign.
When the King arrived, he was ceremoniously presented with a silver cup and invited to draw wine from the barrel. As he filled his silver chalice, he was surprised when he tasted only water. Where was the wine? Each villager had reasoned, "I'll withhold my best wine and give water. There will be so many cups of excellent wine poured into the barrel that mine will never be missed."
Here was a town full of people whose private greed completely overcame their public enthusiasm. The indictment of Isaiah the prophet suited them perfectly: "these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me.."
Yet our God looks at the heart, and He knows well when we are going through the motions of showing love and admiration for him, without any truth or sincerity.
Hypocrisy is a serious offense to our God. He would rather we honestly withhold then pretend to be generous. How often do we act publicly to be seen by men in a certain light, while in fact, our motive is self-seeking? So God will have to do another marvellous work to expose our hypocrisy, because of His love for us, for He knows when our "wine" is really "water". But wouldn't we rather offer our very best wine right from the start?