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Hypocrisy is one of the great shames of Christianity. It is the #1 reason why people outside the church say they don’t go to church. For some it is merely an excuse, but others have been disillusioned by the gap between what some Christians say and how they livs, or between the way some Christians act at church and how they act in the world. When we as Christians do not live the faith we claim, we cause damage. Renowned atheist Frederick Nietzsche said, “I might believe in the Redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed.” As Christians we often don’t realize how much destruction is caused by hypocrisy. It is a sin that creates an obstacle for those who might otherwise be open to the message of Jesus Christ. Jesus has no tolerance for hypocrisy as we see in Matthew 23:13-36 where he repeatedly condemns the teachers and religious leaders who are telling others how to live and pretending to be pious and holy, but privately they are living with hidden sin. Our lives should be evidence to other believers and to the world of Christ’s love for all people and of his redeeming power. Our lives should promote the Gospel not hurt it.

Scriptures – Ps 139:23-24; Pr 28:13; Mt 21:13, 23:25-27, 33; Jn 8:32; Ti 1:16

“Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” (Mt 23:25-26) Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. (Pr 28:13) “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:32)

Hypocrisy is neither the difference between what you do and what you wish you did nor the difference between how you behave and how you wish you behaved. You may wish you didn’t have bad thoughts, but sometimes you do. These are normal struggles, sins that we confess to God, admit to one another, and continue working to change. In the Greek language hupo-krite means one who wears a mask. It was used for actors. Christian hypocrites come in varying forms and fashions. Some who harshly judge those who indulge in alcohol, drugs or sexual immorality, are the worst offenders of the very things they condemn. Some pretend to be happy on the outside, acting as though all is right in their life, while in reality they are in pain, they have a child who is in trouble, their marriage is suffering, or their finances are in disarray. We all need help at one time or another! Taking a look at the person in the mirror and honestly asking God to reveal the inward sin, heartache and loneliness, is the first step in making a change. John 3:32 says the truth will set you free. Truth allows us to quit pretending and start being real—no more coverups and worry that our secrets will be found out. Truth clarifies things in a way nothing else can. When you allow God to work inside of you, his transforming power changes you from the inside out. You will not be perfect, but you will be real, and you will be a much greater influence for Christ when you put down the mask.

What do you think is the greatest hypocrisy that the world sees in Christians? How has God worked in your life to help rid you of hypocrisy? Why do people hide their pain from their Christian brothers and sisters? How is pride a factor in hypocrisy? How should we confront a fellow Christian’s hypocrisy? Or should we? How do we truly love as Jesus loved and yet speak the truth in a way that is received in love and not as judgement? How does the truth set you free?

Look in the mirror. Ask God to place his holy searchlight on you and to point out those things that you need to confront and change. Think about what you profess regarding your faith. Does it align with how you live your life, where you go, your conversation, your actions, your friends?

Dear Lord, you know everything about me. There is no pretending when standing in your presence. Help me to be honest with myself and with others. Allow me to express genuine love and concern for those around me so that they will see your light shining in me. I pray that I will never cause another person to stumble in their faith or to be detoured from seeking you. Help me to lead and not to hinder. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.