I came across an interesting situation the other day. A young married couple, living in an expensive area of the country, were quite strapped for cash. One of them had parents who were quite openly very well off.
The young couple usually found Christmas very helpful, as the rich parents usually gave them some money. Imagine their reaction then when they found that the parents had bought them some of Oxfam's latest range. Basically, they gave the money to Oxfam to get something for people in poor countries. They then gave the young couple a card, saying that they'd done this and what they'd bought.
Now, to my mind, this doesn't seem very good. If you want to give money to Oxfam, that's fine (though I'd think Tear Fund would be better). But why should that detract from gifts to others, especially when they were relying on those gifts, and especially especially when you hadn't asked the couple first?
This got my sympathy, of course. But it also started ringing bells in my head.
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." He answered them, "And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.' But you say, 'If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.' So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God.
Matthew 15:1-6, ESV
Seems like there's nothing new under the sun...
To avoid hypocrisy though, it is worth thinking about how I sometimes think of pious excuses for not supporting my family and friends.