Matthew 23:28, “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
One of the biggest issues Jesus had with the Jewish leaders of His day was their hypocrisy. The English word “hypocrite” comes from the ancient Greek word for “actor or pretender,” which is “hypokrites.” To be a hypocrite means you “pretend to be someone you are not” and hypocrisy is defined as “play acting.”
Some people wrongly think that being a hypocrite is someone who makes mistakes or sins. However, if the definition of a hypocrite were a person who sins then everyone would be a hypocrite because no one beside Jesus has lived sinless (Proverbs 24:16).
A hypocrite is not someone who sins, but rather someone who hides their sins and pretends to be someone they’re not.
Lies and deception go hand-in-hand with hypocrisy. For example, if a single male was volunteering as a youth leader in your church and he was having sex outside of marriage, while at the same time trying to teach the students to be virgins; he would be a hypocrite. The leader should confess his sin to the youth pastor, step down from leadership and learn how to “practice” what he has been “preaching.” Paul gave a great definition of what a hypocrite does in Romans 2:1, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” In other words, if you are passing judgment on someone for doing the same things you’re doing, that is hypocrisy.
Imagine if you were a manager that was responsible to hand in reports to your boss every Friday. However, if you continually handed in the reports late and did an unsatisfactory job but kept harassing your employees for their late work; you would be a hypocrite. Likewise, Jesus wasn’t against the Law of Moses or the high standard that God had placed on the Jews nor was He angry because the Jewish leaders failed at times to keep it. Jesus’ main problem with the priests and teachers of the Law was that they pretended and acted like they were experts at keeping the Law, yet they were just as bad, if not worse, than the people they were supposed to be helping (Matthew 23:15).
The key to not being a hypocrite is to be transparent and walk humbly before God and man. A great way to practice transparency is to have an accountable partner in your life that you can be real with (James 5:16). Find someone of the same gender in your church, if you haven’t already, and ask him or her to lovingly point out your weaknesses so you can mature in your walk with God.
Also, consider walking transparently with people on the job, in the church and with your family. By being open with your weaknesses you will allow others to be open with theirs. Then hopefully everyone can grow together to be the best they can be (Colossians 3:17). For example, I let the pastors I oversee help me to be nice and patient with those in the church. This kind of honesty allows them to be more receptive when I need to point out their growth spots.
Do you struggle with acting like someone you’re not? If so, pray this out loud, “Father, please forgive me for being fake and wearing a mask in life. Help me to be honest with others concerning who I really am. Make me a person of integrity wherever I go. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Are you a hypocrite?
- Repent if you have been a hypocrite.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your weaknesses to you, so you can be honest and admit them before God and others.
- Walk honestly and humbly before people. Warren Wiersbe said, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy.”
One Year Reading Plan
Jeremiah 42:1-44:23, 2 Timothy 2:1-21, Psalm 92:1-93:5, & Proverbs 26:3-5. Click here to read online.