The Pandemic of Hypocrisy

Our story reflected in his story.

Photo by Mihaly Koles on Unsplash

You’re a hypocrite.

You’re false.

This morning I was reading Matthew 6. For the first time ever I noticed that there is this emphasis in that chapter about hypocrisy. It’s one of those things that I can’t believe I didn’t see before. The whole chapter is a warning not to be a hypocrite.

When you give… don’t be a hypocrite.
When you pray… don’t be a hypocrite.
When you fast… don’t be a hypocrite.
When you consider your needs… don’t be a hypocrite.

The word that we translate hypocrite was used in Greek as the word for “actor.” It’s not used this way in the New Testament, but it extends to the idea of being someone who is false. A person who acts one way but in reality is the opposite.

This call by Jesus to not be a hypocrite is so deeply challenging.

Too many times those of us who are part of the Christian faith are mostly marked and understood to be hateful people. Some of this comes from the fact that we hold to certain beliefs and embrace a particular worldview that is in conflict with those around us. More often than not, it is because our words and our actions are not aligned. We talk about love and grace and freedom and mercy and yet our actions betray those ideals.

Let us for a moment consider the “televangelist.” The entire concept of the televangelist is in direct contradiction to Matthew 6. The spectacle of what happens on TV can in no way be seen as anything other than standing on the street corner and putting ourselves on display.

This is just the tip of the iceberg isn’t it?

Just a moment before Jesus taught about having people see your good deeds and letting that point them to the Father. Here he seems to be contradicting that. I think that the key here is that he mostly talking about words and not action. Don’t go making some big display with all of your words about how great you are and how much you love God. Simply go about living your faith in your neighborhood and as you do, people will see that.

We live in a time where social media makes all the more easy to be fake and false. We can say all kinds of things about what we believe. But, when push comes to shove how we take action is what really matters. What we do away from the spotlight and the attention shows who we really are.

This last few weeks I have become keenly aware of how much more work I have to do. I am not the kind person I want to be. I am too often snippy, short, cutting, and nasty with those closest to me. Too often I do not love well. There have been too many times that I fall far short of loving my family the way I encourage others to. Thankfully, my family is kind and gracious. They call me to change and accept my confession and give me grace.

This word, ὑποκριτής, hyprocrite, “hypocrite (an extension of an actor in a play, not found in the NT), implying arrogance and hardness of heart, utterly devoid of sincerity and genuineness.” Sadly, this describes so much of what passes as Christian these days.

I dream of the day when we embrace a new story. One where the follower of Jesus is known by their love. Real love. Love that is self-sacrificial. A love that sets aside one’s personal rights for the well-being of another. A love that is redemptive and that shines righteousness, justice, mercy, and grace into the world.

I encourage you to read Matthew 6 in light of Jesus challenging his listeners on hypocrisy and ask yourself, “How am I doing? Am I humble, soft of heart, and full of sincerity and genuineness?”