Hypocrisy is defined by Dictionary.com as, “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc. that one does not really possess.” It’s something that Christians fight with every day. We work so hard to be seen in one light but live our lives many times as if there is no light in which to shine. We shine a beacon on the things we want people to see but hide in darkness those things we want to conceal from others
Hypocrisy can be illustrated by the way we clean house when company is coming – We shove our junk in the closet, stuff it under the bed, etc. where it can’t be seen. Out of sight it doesn’t exist at least to our guests. That is not a horrible way to clean house, but it is a terrible way to deal with the spiritual junk in our lives. There is no value to hide our junk from people if God sees it. He is the one we are to please.
We are told in the book of James 1:26 that, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” This is true not just in our words but in our actions. If we say we believe one thing but live our lives as if we don’t, then it makes our claims of piety nothing but lies and we are properly labeled hypocrites.
In Revelation 3:14-17, God tells the church of Laodicea, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”
Hypocrites can be the biggest enemy to the church because they give reason for non-believers to doubt anything God has to say. They see members proclaiming virtues of God but living their lives in disobedience to them. They see Christians condemning the acts of others while doing little to correct their own acts of sinfulness. Why would they want to commit themselves to something when all they have seen from people who claim to be Christian is rebellion.
As we said earlier, those things we think are hidden from others can never be hidden from God. He sees every attempt of ours to hide our addictions, our spiritual laziness and our pet sins. He knows our every thought and hears our every word. He sees us promote our lives of righteousness while living our lives of immorality. That’s why he gives us the warning, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1).
So, how are we to survive all of this? We start with Matthew 7:1-5, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment, you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
In many ways the opposite of hypocrisy is honesty. Before you judge others, take a look at your own life. Before you espouse others to adopt deep spiritual truths, take an account of how you yourself are living those values out. Before you recommend how another should be living their life, take account of your own shortfalls on the path to glory.
The answer to our problem with hypocrisy is to begin to be honest with ourselves and with others. If you struggle with your faith, don’t try to hide it in a closet, do something about it. If you find yourself wearing a Christian mask but living your life as if you are mask less, surrender to the God of positive change. Let God guide you to the truth so that when you claim a life in Christ, you really mean it. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, help us in our faith so that when we say something we no longer have to hide our true selves. Keep us steadfast in the truth and guide us toward lives of honesty and commitment. Amen.