I was listening to a sports talk radio show while driving and the host thought he was so clever. A caller had said something about athletes who raise their hand to the sky when they do something well in their sport, like hit a home run or score a touchdown. The talk show host began to rant about hypocrites, “I cannot stand these religious hypocrites,” he yelled into the microphone as he clearly opposed any whiff of religion in sports. “These people talk about religion and they are no better than you or me. That’s why I don’t like all this religious stuff.” But the caller responded, “Would you still be opposed if a salesman did a similar thing at work, or a firefighter raised her hand to the sky after putting out a fire?”
The radio host replied, “As long as we clean out the hypocrites, it’s okay with me.” I said to my car radio, “Thank you, Mr. Talk Show host, for agreeing with God on this topic. He hates hypocrisy too.” Yet don’t you think it is ironic that something God is so opposed to is used by people as an excuse to ignore the reality of the supernatural and not seek the Creator?
The prophet Isaiah warned the Jews about this in Isaiah 29:13. Jesus said it this way: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8). It is evident from Isaiah and Jesus that God is expressing how much he dislikes hypocrisy. How about you and I?
The world we live in is looking for hypocrisy from those who claim to be followers of Jesus. They often say, “See, those people are no better than any of us. They say all this religious stuff and go to meetings where the Bible is talked about, but when the pressure is on, they act just like we do.”
I often ask where they see hypocrisy in the church to ascertain if they are merely grouchy about the Church, or if they have a legitimate gripe. Obviously, people in the Church are like everyone else (human, for instance, and trying to move ahead amidst life’s trials). There certainly are people who claim to be Christian whose words and lifestyles do not match up well yet. Yet most of the Christians I know are not attempting to live a Christ-DIS-honoring life on purpose. And most of the Christians I know would argue that they have no intention of being a hypocrite.
Read Matthew 23:13-32.
You can tell Jesus hates hypocrisy because of what he said to the biggest hypocrites of the first century – the Pharisees. In Matthew 23, he called them hypocrites not once, not twice, not three-four-or-five times, but on six occasions. Jesus said those religious leaders thought they were putting on a big show for the people who were supposed to trust and follow their example. Jesus reminded them that He (i.e., God) knew their hearts. Jesus knew they were “far from Him.”
What have you done recently that was hypocritical? Who do you need to apologize to for your words and/or actions? When someone on campus or in your community throws out a blanket condemnation of religious hypocrites, how should you respond reasonably, if at all?
People of little faith (and fellow Christ-followers) are right to point out hypocrisy in us as they see it. Our task is not to get upset with them, but to make sure it does not reflect our lives. Walk wisely. Let’s keep our words and actions close to God and live the life we say we are going to.
Love is a verb,