“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 6:1
Hypocrisy is by consensus the number one reason why people don’t come to church, why they criticize the church, and why they have no use for the church. Every church has hypocrites. Frankly, that shouldn’t really be surprising. The movement that Jesus started produced many hypocrites. As a matter of fact, being the largest religion in the world, Christianity has probably produced more hypocrites than any other movement in history.
The word “hypocrites” is used seventeen times in the New Testament and every time it is used by Jesus. Nobody used it or talked about it as much as he did, who first critiqued religious hypocrisy in a way that shaped the way we look at it and made it such a negative term.
In the Sermon on the Mount, He dealt with this issue of hypocrisy head-on and shared with His disciples then and His followers now how to avoid holy hypocrisy. If we are going to break down barriers and build bridges to unbelievers and especially the next generation, Jesus tells us three things we have to do. Let’s talk about the first one now and we’ll cover the other two tomorrow.
First, in order to combat hypocrisy, you must be holy in your private life. The only way to cure public hypocrisy is through private holiness. If you are going to preach what you practice, you have to practice what you preach.
Now, I want to make sure you understand what hypocrisy is not. Hypocrisy is not the difference between what we are and what we want to be. It is not the separation between what we want to do and what we actually do. Hypocrisy is the difference between your private character and your public conduct.
If you want to start living a holier private life, ask yourself this question, “If your heart was a glass window, would you want it to be stained glass with the curtains closed or would you want it to be clear so everybody could see it?”
Are you really in private what you claim to be in public? You see, the most important part of your life will always be the part that nobody sees but you and God. Because in that secret place, in that private place, there is no applause. Nobody is clapping for you. There is no acclaim. Nobody is telling you how great you appear to be and there are no awards. Nobody is giving you a trophy for what you do. It is for His eyes only and that is when He knows He has your heart.
So with that in mind, my challenge to you is to start your battle against hypocrisy by examining your private life and making sure it lines up with the way you talk, act, and speak publicly. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow as we continue this conversation.
Dear Lord, I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be a genuine, authentic person who practices what they preach. Help me to live privately the way I portray myself publicly so that I might honor you whether someone else is watching or not. In Jesus’ name, amen.