“The ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:14-16)
Over the next five days we will examine seven common, dangerous problems with our speech: hypocritical words, lies, flattery, gossip and slander, stirring up anger and provoking conflict. We’ll start with hypocritical words. It seems that no one likes hypocrites, including hypocrites themselves. Hypocrisy is a sin in God’s eyes, which means that it is a sin for believers. Saying what people want to hear instead of saying what we believe—this is the most basic form of pretense. Many of us are guilty of hiding behind a façade of conformity to be comfortable from time to time. Doing this continually becomes hypocrisy. Acting as if we want to do something or care about someone when we don’t is a common failure among people. Christians should recognize this experience as the pressure to fit in for the approval from others, which leads to a pattern of hypocrisy. “When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.” (Matthew 6:5) These were the men who claimed to have the most serious religion, but they were insincere—it was all for show. If we find ourselves doing this we are to confess and repent and ask God to help us see the root of our inconsistency.
Hypocrites are those who are not self-deceived but those who know what they are doing, and that what they are doing is an act. But our language and conduct are to be separate or detached, as if we can be divided into one-part secular and one-part spiritual. All the aspects of our lives, personalities, and character are interrelated and reflect our beliefs. Hypocrisy usually shows itself in words vs. conduct—that is, our words are not consistent with our behavior. An alcoholic says he is fighting his addiction but then you see him in a bar, having a drink with others, with no intention of leaving this place of temptation. One of the easiest ways to become a hypocrite is to stay close to the very temptations that we say we need to resist. Keep in mind that Eve was close enough to the tree of knowledge to pick its fruit when the serpent tempted her. Perhaps she could have resisted, had she been on the other side of the garden. The Pharisees continued to meet and plot against Jesus while acting as if they had the closest relationship with God. Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’” (Matthew 23:29-30)
In what area or with what people do you tend topretend to be something you are not? Do your words match your actions and beliefs? Is not, why not? Do your words reflect your desire to be an honest sinner instead of a skilled hypocrite?