To the Hypocrites in My Life

Two things I love: to play with my girls and to cuddle with them. Sometimes the two mix and we start out cuddling and end up playing. This happened the other day when Rebekah was cuddling with me. She then decided she was going to be my kitty cat named Garla (don’t ask, I don’t know where she got that name).

Rebekah is not the only one who likes to play kitty cat. My oldest, Charis, loves this game too. Or puppy dog. Either one is fine with her. But they play it different ways. When Charis plays, she runs off and finds a “tail” and then runs around the house on her hands and knees barking or meowing for a pleasant patient filled day of noise. Rebekah, on the other hand, doesn’t do anything of the sort. She will look in the mirror on our headboard and meow while looking at her reflection. No tail. No crawling on all fours. She seems averse to any notion that she should be taking her role any other way than in the way in which she plays.

I was stunned by a thought I had while watching little Garla meow in the mirror. She’s a hypocrite. I mean she really is a hypocrite, not just what is typically meant when the word is used. You know the typical way in which it is used, “I don’t go to church because it is full of hypocrites.” Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. An abuse of the word is occurring here.

Not to say there aren’t hypocrites in the church, because there most certainly are, but not for the guilt typically assigned to them. Get down to what most people mean by “the church being full of hypocrites” and you come up with the idea that the church is full of sinners. Well, yeah, of course the church is full of sinners. Not all sin is the sin of hypocrisy. Seems a little self redundant to say “The church is full of people who are sinners.” If the church you’re thinking of doesn’t acknowledge they are sinners well they fit into the category of hypocrite.

What exactly is a hypocrite? The cultural context of the Greek term used  comes from Greek drama. There an actor would fill multiple roles in even one play. To carry out this “deception” the actor would hold different masks in front of his face for each part. He could play a woman, an old man and a young man all in the same play by using these masks. Think of the iconography typically assigned to the theatre today and you will get the image – the smiling and frowning masks depicting comedy and tragedy.

Within the context of the Bible then a hypocrite is one who claims they do something they don’t do.  That is why we get Jesus’ condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew when he says

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn’t have taken part with them in shedding the prophets’ blood.” You therefore testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Matthew 23:27-31)

Ravi Zacharias points to this understanding when he told a room full of evangelists in Amsterdam in 2000: “Why is it that a community that talks so much about supernatural transformation shows so little of that transformation? We will have to be men and women who embody the message that we are preaching, whose lives are faithful to the claims we are making.”

Back to my girls pretending to be kitty cats – one was actually doing it and the other just wanted to watch herself as she pretended to do it. It is really an easy question to ask, “Does my life match the claims I make about who I am, what I believe and what I say I do?”

Perhaps now it is easy to see how everyone can fall into the trap of hypocrisy from time to time. The Pharisees where guilty because they claimed to be more righteous than they actually were. Only one has lived up to a standard of righteousness acceptable to God – Jesus the Savior. He lived perfectly what he claimed – and still does. Through the grace and love of Jesus, letting his poured blood from the atrocity of the beautiful cross cover you so that you can be forgiven of rebellion– including the sin of hypocrisy – will free you to start shedding those reptilian masks off your skin as you seek to become a new creation in God.


4 Comments to “To the Hypocrites in My Life”

  1. I didn’t know you had a blog. Why have you never told me this?

    • I have told you, but my mistake was I forgot to use my brooklyn accent so you didn’t understand me when I said “I have a blog” and you heard “I like hog.”

  2. Interesting, didn’t know that about the origin of the word. I admit to being one but only a few thousand times a day.

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