Jesus had plenty to say to people that didn’t behave in a Godly way. One such time appears in Matthew 23:27-28. The Amplified translation says, “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. 28 So you, also, outwardly seem to be just and upright to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
These verses are especially interesting to me, because they point to an all too familiar behavior that people have done pretty much forever – appear one way yet they are truly another.
A variation on this behavior can be somewhat normal. We all put our best face forward on job interviews or when dating someone new that we really like. We also may act somewhat differently than normal depending on the people with whom we are spending time. I realize I am quite different with my best friend that I have been close to since 1988 than I am with other people I have known for only a short time.
The difference is that behaving in those ways in those situations isn’t presenting an entirely different version of who we really are. It’s simply calling attention to good qualities that are already there, or being more comfortable with one person over another. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite to behave like this. You are simply adapting to each situation.
A person who presents themselves as good or even holy yet is quick to gossip, steal, cheat, judge, avoid helping those truly in need unless they can get recognition for doing so, use or manipulate other people is the type of person Jesus was speaking to in the afore mentioned Scriptures. People like this clearly have impure motives & are acting out of their own best interests. They are the “whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones.”
Narcissists have this behavior down pat, especially covert narcissists. They want people to think only good of them, & will do whatever necessary to make that happen. Narcissists seem to know exactly how to act to make whoever they are with at that moment think the absolute best of them. Yet, their victims have seen the monster living behind the mask. I remember shortly after my husband & I got married. We had dinner with his parents one night, & his mother told me how terribly disappointed she & his father were that he married me instead of an ex girlfriend. I think it was the next time we saw my in-laws at a party they hosted, where this same mother in-law introduced me to her sister as, “my beautiful daughter in-law.”
When you are in a close relationship with the monster, seeing them acting in full evil character, & you see other people foolishly, blindly buying their act, it is shocking. It’s shocking that the person who treats you so cruelly can be the same person who appears so charismatic, generous, funny, fun loving or whatever this person is pretending to be. It’s also shocking that so many people blindly believe this act & will defend the narcissist fiercely. How can they not see that this is clearly an act?!
The one good thing about having experienced this behavior is that you learn how to spot it in other people when the average person may miss it entirely. While I wouldn’t suggest you be glad you experienced what you did to learn this lesson, I would at least suggest that you use that knowledge to protect yourself from people like this in the future. Avoid those whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones & instead focus on relationships with genuine & good people. Your life will be much better for it!
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