Are you a hypocrite? Am I? Knowing a hypocrite when we see
one is much easier than recognizing hypocrisy in ourselves.
The word hypocrite comes from the Greek hypokrisis, which
means play-acting, or acting out, or dissembling. A hypocrite wears
a mask, pretending to be something she is not. A hypocrite may
pretend to virtues, morals, religious beliefs or principles she does not
If we pretend often enough, we may begin to fool ourselves. A
hypocrite is a person whose actions belie her stated beliefs, who
feigns a desirable or publicly approved attitude, especially when her
private life, opinions or statements belie her public statements. Itâ
€™s the politician who rails against homosexuality and is found to
Scripture teaches against hypocrisy. Jesus pointed out the following
characteristics of hypocrisy:
1. The hypocrite is hyper-critical of other people, trusting in her
privileges or burdening others with rules she doesnâ€™t follow, she
is willfully blind to her own faults while being judgmental and
censorious of others. Jesus condemns the person with a beam in her
own eye who is obsessed with getting a speck out of her neighborâ
€™s eye (Matthew 7:5).
2. The hypocrite lacks integrity as a person. Her outer actions
donâ€™t correspond with her inner motives. Thereâ€™s an
inconsistency between her external religious activity and her heart.
Jesus compares the hypocrite with the person who washes the
outside of a cup while leaving the inside filthy or whitewashes a tomb
that houses corruption and decay (Matthew 23:25-39).
3. The hypocrite does good for selfish motives. She always
considers a situation from the standpoint of what she can get from
it. Sheâ€™s self-righteous and ostentatious in her good deeds.
Jesus talked about the person who claims to be doing good, but
does it for selfish reasons. (Matthew 6:1-5).
4. The hypocrite is not sincere. Sheâ€™s two-faced, acting pious
and worshipping God without love or mercy. She practices injustice
and oppression while professing godliness. She talks a good line,
but fails to practice it. She regards tradition more than the word of
God, having the form of godliness without the reality. (Hosea 6:6) .
5. The hypocrite majors in minors. She is exacting in the little
details of Christian living while neglecting the important ones
The fact that we are Christians doesnâ€™t mean that we always
behave in a Christlike manner.
Our churches breed hypocrisy in two different ways: First, we fail
to acknowledge our own weaknesses. And second, we are so
insistent on proper behavior that we fail to accept the people who
come to us for who they are.
We should, rather, encourage contrite honesty, The antidote to
hypocrisy is humility, recognizing our faults and being sincerely
penitent, and confession, acknowledging them to God and to other
people. When we recognize our own weaknesses, weâ€™ll be
more patient with the weaknesses of others.