By Tom Moore
The story is told about a father complaining about the amount of time his family spent in front of the television. His children watched too many cartoons and neglected their homework. His wife preferred watching soap operas as opposed to doing housework. What is his solution? He declares, “As soon as the football season is over, I’m going to pull the plug.” Hypocrisy! Someone once said, “Hypocrisy is like a pin. It is pointed in one direction, and yet headed in another.”
Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines hypocrisy as an “act of playing a part on stage; a feigning to be what one is not; the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion.” A hypocrite is one who fakes virtues or qualities he does not have.
In any great forest you will find huge trees. They tower above other trees and appear to be the very picture of strength and maturity. However, loggers will sometimes not even bother to cut down these huge trees. At first one wonders, “Why leave them? – After all, a tree that big must contain twice or three times the amount of limber as a smaller tree.” The reason is simple. Huge trees are often rotten on the inside. They are the hollow trees that children’s picture books show raccoons living in. And they are the trees that are often blown over in a strong windstorm because, while they appear to be the picture of strength, in fact their hollowness makes them weak. This is the essence of hypocrisy – appearing strong on the outside, but hollow and rotten on the inside.
One of the saddest things about hypocrisy is that many in the Lord’s church have succumbed to this deadly playacting. Some Christians try to outwardly appear faithful and concerned about the Lord’s work, but inwardly they are worldly – they are only pretenders. Jesus said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mt. 23:27-28). Jesus said we must beware of hypocrisy (Lk. 12:1). Paul speaks of hypocrisy when he says, “They profess that they know God; but by their works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Tit. 1:16).
In our present day many are hypocrites in worship. Our Lord declared, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Mt. 15:7-9). How many Christians come to the assembly to worship, but have left their heart elsewhere? Simply “going through the motions” is not pleasing worship to God – it is hypocrisy!
Many Christians are hypocrites when they see only the faults of others and refuse to see their own. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me cast out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye” (Lk. 6:41-42).
One can be hypocritical when they try to make laws where God has not made them. Our Lord warned, “But the Lord answered him, and said, Ye hypocrites, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan had bound, lo, these eighteen years, to have been loosed from this bond on the day of the sabbath?” (Lk. 13:15-16).
There are many other ways that one can be a hypocrite that are just too numerous to mention. But remember this, hypocrites are great pretenders. Thus, let us be warned, for the Great and Almighty Judge said that hypocrites will not go to heaven (Mt. 24:51)!