Phonies Banished

Mark Fackler

READ : Zechariah 13:1-6

“On that day a fountain shall be opened.” (v. 1)

Count Victor Lustig was a con artist par excellance. He once conned Chicago gangster Al Capone out of $5,000. The gangster was so amused, he felt the man had earned his fee. A charlatan of lesser skill might never have lived to con again!

Zechariah foresees a day when all religious con-men (false prophets) are swept away and God’s truth is revealed without ambiguity or spin. So confident is Zechariah that he imagines even the parents and friends of these spiritual con-men “taking them out,” to use a gangster term. The violent image underscores the refusal of God’s people to accept phonies and hypocrites any longer. The great damage done by false teachers is finally ended.

At the same time, we should be slow to accuse a leader of falsehood. Suspicion spreads like a virus. Young adults grow easily cynical about Christian ministry, when a measure of charity would check our tendency to judge. We tend to accuse and label other people as hypocrites quickly, before we hear their side.

I once heard a pastor warn people to keep their eyes open during prayers lest purses disappear. Con artists do infiltrate churches. Gullible Christians can be led down a primrose path to huge monetary—and spiritual—losses. Keep your eyes open, but your heart pure.


Lord, show me my own faults and hypocrisy first before I think about others.