The Secret Service was created in 1865, not to protect high government officials, but to combat a rising problem of counterfeit currency. It would not be until 1901 that the agency began its protection mission after the assassination of President William McKinley. Today, the task of securing the financial infrastructure of the nation continues to be a primary responsibility.
When training agents to spot a counterfeit bill, the emphasis is placed on the ability to recognize all the characteristics of a genuine one. It may seem odd to focus on authentic currency instead of fakes, but the skill to tell what is real enables the agent to determine what is phony.
There are plenty of counterfeits in the world. It isn’t just the knock-off perfumes, jewelry, or clothing; fakes show up everywhere. Items that look like the real thing, products that imitate but do not replicate the original, people who are phonies – they all have something in common.
Jesus used a harsh term for those who pretended to be one thing while truly being something else. He called such people hypocrites. The word comes from Greek drama when actors would use masks to portray characters and deliver dialogue.
We all have some hypocrite in us. Authenticity is a virtue that is not easily mastered. You probably have heard someone say that the reason he doesn’t go to church is that it is full of hypocrites. The best response to such a charge is: “You’re right, but we have room for one more. Come on in.”
What’s the best defense against hypocrisy? Accountability is a good place to start. We are best exposed by being honest with ourselves, by having people in our lives who will tell us the truth, and by seeking deepening spiritual discipline that opens us to the work of the Holy Spirit. After David’s great sin, he accepted the accountability of Nathan and then implored God to purify him, to create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit. His path to authenticity wasn’t easy, but the road of self-deception and hypocrisy nearly killed him.
Nobody likes a fake. God has a better plan for His children.