With our bible class starting soon, I have been preparing diligently for the class. While doing so, I came to realize something about one of the initial thoughts presented in the class already and the series of lessons that I have present recently concerning our God given task to evangelize. With titles like “Walk This Way,” “The Old vs The New,” Let’s Be His Beacon,” and “Think Before You Speak,” the idea of personal growth seemed to be a common thread. Truth be told, our need to rid ourselves of the old man and cloth ourselves with the new man is a daily and often challenging objective. One of the stumbling blocks for me over the years is a word that repulses even the irreligious. It is the word hypocrisy. It is a word that I have had to face in my own walk with God. With God’s grace and mercy, it no longer hinders me, but always reminds me of the ease to once again resurrect that old man. So, here are a couple things to learn about hypocrisy.
Hypocrites! Well, did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying…
We at times reside Jesus to some passive role in our world, but that is not how He conducted Himself in all situations. He had strong words to say and often they were left for the religious leaders of His day. The verse above is but one of many where Jesus confronts His listeners with a painful truth, they were hypocrites. In Matthew 23:13-36 He uses this word to challenge His listeners no less than eight times. So exactly what is meant by it? The Greek word translated hypocrite means “a stage actor.” Some suggest it comes from the one man play where the actor uses different masks to play a role. Another suggests it was a mask that could augment the voice of the actor. Simply put, it refers to someone pretending to be something they are not and with no intent on changing. This is seen with these sobering words of Jesus, “These people draw near to Me with their mouths, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8). Hypocrisy is a heart matter! And those in the church are not exempt from it, including myself.
Beware of no man more than of yourself; we carry our worst enemies within us.
Recently I had a conversation with someone about this very thing. Then, as I reviewed the material from the class Learning to Love, I came across this quote from Dr. Paul Faulkner in which he defined hypocrisy as one who “is pretending to be something they [you] never intend to become.” If we go back to Matthew 15, we get this idea as Jesus says, “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Through their traditions, they twisted the will of God, giving the appearance of godliness (hypocrisy) while defying God’s command. They had NO intention of becoming what God wanted. There is the distinction! Intent!
Why say this in the first place? Transformation is a vigorous and often overwhelming process for many; it has been for me at times over the years. The frustrations that surface as one painfully sees who they are in light of what God calls them to can be intense. It can be so easy to look in the mirror and say, “What a hypocrite.” But I find comfort in knowing some very important truths. First, I am an imperfect disciple; even so, God loves me where I am at and that will never change. Yet, He yearns for me not to stay where I am at, so He provides me with wisdom (through His word) and strength to move beyond where I am. Flawed as I may be, and I am, I fear not the word hypocrite for it does not describe me, for I have no intention on remaining as I am. Christlikeness is my goal.