It’s hard not to be a hypocrite.
We want to save the branding iron for those who do things blatantly against professed beliefs, running them through the chute, pressing that hot iron into their flesh and sending them out into the pasture. But every one of us has things in our lives that are hypocritical of our beliefs. If we would recognize them for what they are, we might find a greater measure of peace, joy, and effectiveness in our daily lives.
Now, as usual, I will use my personal experiences as a guide to illustrate these thoughts.
Situation 1: First, a simple everyday occurrence, at least here in the great state of Maryland. I know this probably isn’t the case but the undeniably worse drivers, ever, have all been gathered together and dropped into this state. The things I have seen would scare you more than any horror movie , the dangerous lane changes, breakneck speeds, and near misses are legendary around here. The number of people driving hazardously with a cell-phone in use, ridiculous. That being said, would it be right to get angry and call them names – to tailgate a tailgater – to pull alongside the “offender” and make gestures of disapproval? Or should we say a prayer for them and those who cross their path? Lets think about that a minute…we love others as Christ loves us, well, most of the time!
Luke 6:28-29 (KJV)
28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
Situation 2: Someone is critical of us; directly or indirectly they have found fault with something we have done, either to them personally or in a general sense. What should our response be? Throw their own faults and perceived failures back in their face – cut off communication with them – disregard their criticism because we didn’t understand why they said what they did? Thought’s to ponder on this one might be something like…maybe we are at fault, and God is using this person to bring it to light. It is possible the accusation has merit but was communicated as it was because of the hurtful experiences they may have had. We don’t really want to look them in the eyes knowing that we don’t want to face that criticism. We take the easy way out, and explain it away by throwing accusations back at them. We won’t accept criticism from anyone we don’t deem as qualified. Ever heard of the prophet and the donkey? God speaks to us in a variety of ways, and we would be wise to listen. A hypocrite doesn’t learn but blindly continues on devoid of understanding, and that will bring dishonor to Christ, and the family of God.
Zephaniah 3:1-5 (KJV)
3 Woe to her that is filthy and polluted, to the oppressing city!
2 She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the Lord; she drew not near to her God.
3 Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.
4 Her prophets are light and treacherous persons: her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.
5 The just Lord is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.
Situation 3: We as believers have a standard of conduct to live by, and a command to love one another. We do this as best we can, we think, but in our own spiritual condescension we may be passing summary judgement on everyone we disapprove of. Measuring their deeds against our own sometimes faulty, and imperfect lives. Then we may use scripture to justify this behavior and attitude! We throw people away like soiled toilet paper and wonder why our churches don’t grow – why our relationships aren’t deeper – why we are so alone. There is little love in our hearts when we think we are above others. Jesus dined with sinners, went to their homes, reached out to the lost and encouraged the miss-directed Christian.
My point is that we are all hypocritical in some way, and we are all on a journey of learning and being changed, so none of us can afford to think we have a corner on ultimate truth or hyper-spirituality. Yes, I am speaking to myself as well. Because we haven’t sinned like another doesn’t mean we are pure and completely holy. Remember what Gods word says, as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.
Isn’t it interesting that hypocrisy is reserved primarily for religious people – That the world in general, of which we are a part, loves to point out our inequity?
We have been setup from the start to be a target, by the One who actually practiced a hypocrisy free life.
That is a tremendous challenge, and one we will have difficulty fulfilling on our own. We need our Savior, we need to trust in Him, we need to show mercy and receive correction, and not be wise in our own eyes. We need to know that just because our response is measured and given in a calm voice, doesn’t in itself make it truth, or kind.
Wisdom says – “I don’t know everything, God continue to teach me” and “yes, though I have fallen short, I will continue to seek Gods face for truth.” We have so very much to learn no matter what our age or station in life may be. God help us to not become so full of ourselves that we become the hypocrite He warned against! To live with love in every part of our life is living as Jesus did, without hypocrisy.
Proverbs 3:1-13 (KJV)
3 My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:
2 For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.
3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
4 So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
9 Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction:
12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
13 Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.