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 religious leaders of His day was their hypocrisy. The English word “hypocrite” comes from the ancient Greek word for “actor or pretender,” which is “hypokrit?s.” Therefore, to be a hypocrite means you “pretend to be someone you are not.” And thus, hypocrisy is defined as “play acting.”
Some people may wrongly think that being a hypocrite is someone who has made mistakes or is imperfect. If the definition of hypocrite was, “a person who makes mistakes” then everyone would be a hypocrite because no one always does what is right, Proverbs 24:16. Therefore, a hypocrite is not someone that never makes mistakes, but rather someone who hides their mistakes and pretends they never happened. As a result, lies and deception always go together with hypocrisy.
For example, imagine if you were a single person volunteering as a youth leader in your church. If you were having sex outside of marriage and still trying to teach the kids in the youth group to be a virgin- you are a hypocrite. You should confess your sins to the youth pastor, step down from leadership, and learn how to “practice” what you’ve been “preaching,” Romans 2:1.
Or imagine if you were a manager at your job and were responsible to hand in reports to your boss on time and with accuracy. However, if you continually handed in the reports late and did an unsatisfactory job but kept harassing your employees for their work- you are a hypocrite. Plus, consider how you would talk to your employees- those who hand in reports to you. Would you give them grace and express understanding in their difficulties? Or would you pretend and act like you were better in your work then them and come across as a “know it all” and “perfectionist?”
Likewise, Jesus wasn’t upset with 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, then the people they were supposed to be helping, Matthew 23:15.
As a result, the key to not being a hypocrite is to be in a transparent and accountable relationship with people you trust, James 5:16. Find someone in the church to ask you the tough questions to help encourage honesty in your life. Also, consider openly sharing your weaknesses and struggles with others when you are in a place of leadership on the job, the church, or in the family. By being open with your struggles you will allow others to be open with theirs. And together you can grow with the people around you to be the best at all you do, Colossians 3:17.
Do you struggle with being the person you say you are? 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. Amen.”
Are you pretending to be someone you’re not to the people around you?
- 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 all people.