What if someone were to call you a hypocrite? How would that make you feel? Would you instantly become defensive? Or would you self-evaluate yourself and ask, "Why would somebody call me that? Is there something that I need to be aware of about myself?" It could motivate you to make some kind of change about yourself.
If you're like me, you would be very defensive if someone were to call you a hypocrite. You would snap back at the accusation and demand proof of this allegation. Of course, saying this doesn't speak well concerning my character, obviously, and I know that I can learn from constructive criticism. But hypocrite?
Maybe it's because of this defensiveness we can identify with how the Pharisees felt when Jesus gave them that label...He exclaimed outright that many of the Pharisees were hypocrites straight to their faces. Ouch. Here are some of those examples:
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.
Do you get the picture? Jesus did not mince words. And as you can imagine, the Pharisees did not take kindly to this.
What was it about the Pharisees that Jesus found so abhorrent? Reading these passages, it seems that the Pharisees would admonish the Jews regarding strict adherence to the law. But in contrast regarding their own disciplines, they would disdain God's commands for their own personal gain; even going as far as putting their laws (men's laws) ahead of God's.
It is quite apparent that God doesn't take hypocrisy lightly. Why else would Jesus have said "woe to you" concerning the Pharisees if it wasn't serious? Matthew 24:51 gives us some idea by telling us that a certain wicked servant, one who understandably would incur God's indignation, will find himself in the same predicament as a hypocrite. So you can see hypocrisy doesn't bode well for anyone. Can anyone grasp how bad God's judgment toward them will be? The verse says, "He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." This, of course, is a fairly accurate description of what it would be like for a person that is separated from their Creator, such as in hell.
Knowing that God is very much opposed to hypocrisy, it would seem pretty apparent then that the people of God ought to take this very seriously. But why Christians? Shouldn't they, of all people, be modeling godly character? The problem is is that we all have the tendency, perhaps due to our sin nature, to take on this wicked condition. Sadly, this kind of thing can take root in a church and cause greater problems.
Consider this following passage:
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth– 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
Though you could argue that Paul's admonition was directed toward the Jews, I would suggest that believers in the body of Christ take heed as well. How often do we get on our soapbox and become all religious and begin pointing fingers? Is it possible that we're doing the very things that Paul was warning the Jews about? To put it plainly, do we brag about being Christians when all the while we put down sinners because they are in adulterous or homosexual relationships, then find ourselves engaged with prostitutes? What about pornography or sexually explicit romance novels? It's a very disturbing thing to see the church laden with sin when the church should be the ones modeling righteousness and being the light that draws people to our Savior.
Hypocrisy is never a good thing. But it's even worse when it's God's people who teach righteousness and truth by the Holy Bible and then live the lives of sinners. Verse 24 in the text tells us that because of the actions of such people, God's Holy Name is blasphemed among the Gentiles. In today's vernacular, think about how the scandals of the church today bring God's Name into question among unbelievers. Just think about it...God's Name is blasphemed. Doesn't that bring fear to your soul?
I know the last days will bring all forms of lies, deception, hypocrisy, etc. But my prayer is that Christians will be convicted of their sin and realize that their sin has consequences that go beyond just themselves. We need to be a body unified by the head, who is Christ. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and realize that our actions sometimes speak louder than words. How will the world know if this Christian life is authentic, if all that they see are a bunch of frauds. Let's be the church that God has called us to be. Let's be the authentic, genuine, and real Christians God created us to be and give God glory!