Hypocrites are everywhere. In the church, in the world, in my house, in yours. Whether it be sharing tips about fitness and healthy living as the only right lifestyle, but eating pizza every night for dinner. Or taking a stance against premarital sex then buying condoms for your upcoming rendezvous. We have all been hypocritical about something. Our world is full of people that say one thing but live another.
In Jesus’ time, those hypocrites were the religious leaders. They ruled the temple. Our discussion of topic today will come from Matthew 23. Jesus is talking to the crowd and his disciples, and he is warning them about living and doing as the Pharisees do. Although the Pharisees knew the Bible and the law, they had become very prideful. These prideful ways are what they taught others. The Pharisees told people that prayer had to be very loud, showy, long, and drawn out. Fasting had to look like you were really sacrificing a lot. Sanctification meant not talking or having any dealings with people. They were doing everything that Jesus came to change.
Are you living like Jesus or the Pharisees?
It may be easy for you to spot if someone is saying or doing something hypocritical. You know whats right from wrong. You see sin and call it out. Great. But can you call yourself out on it too? Keep reading to find out how to spot a hypocrite or to know if you are one.
Hypocrites are caught up on titles.
The Pharisees told people ‘Call me Father and Teacher’ because it fed their pride and ego. It set them apart from others by allowing others to know that they are ‘more important’. They created more and more religious, prideful, hypocritical church people and not servants of Christ for the glory of God. So often we get caught up on titles and teach other that titles are necessary. Please know that there is nothing wrong with addressing anyone by their title, but it should not define you. There should be no greater pleasure than to be called a Christian. So what someone didn’t put Pastor, Minister, Bishop, Reverend, Deacon in front of your name. All of those titles suggest that you are a servant of God’s people. Servant’s don’t make a fuss about a certain title. They just do the work.
Hypocrites want their worship to be seen.
Prayer was a spectacle. Prayer was not sacred for the Pharisees. They wanted everyone to watch them pray to God. The focus was less on the prayer and more on the show. The Pharisees wrote their scriptures very large and wore long tassels on their robes for everyone to see. It was like carrying the biggest Bible and wearing a ‘I love God more than you’ T-shirt. They focused on showing people that they were very religious, when that’s all they were. They had no real relationship. We should not want the same to be said about us.
Hypocrites focus on the what and not the Who.
The Pharisees focused so much on what the Law said and what to do and how to do it, instead of who everything was for. Vs. 23 says that they gave a tenth but still did not show justice, mercy, and faithfulness. How well does that describe some of us in the church today. We pay tithes, sing in the choir, speak in tongues, and raise our hands in praise and worship. But we can’t forgive one another, can’t show mercy instead of judgement, and have prejudices in our decisions.
Jesus said ‘vs. 3‘. Is He saying that about many believers today? At one time He was talking about me. My heart and lifestyle didn’t line up with what I was teaching to others. I was a Christian for social media and at church, but my personal walk with God was non-existent. But only by God’s grace could my life be turned around. So can yours.
Don’t be a Hypocrite. Be real about your walk with Christ. Love and serve God genuinely. If you say you love Him, it should show that you love Him. When no one is watching, when it’s just you and your close friends, when your minister leaves, when the kid that looks up to you goes home.
We should never seek honor for ourselves; only for God alone.
The message to the masses about hypocrites was to not be like them because they don’t ‘practice what they preach.’ Jesus said ‘Woe to you!’ meaning ‘This is a warning! Stop what you’re doing.’ Are you a Pharisee? Jesus said turn from your ways because you have cleaned the outside and left the inside dirty. Take a moment to evaluate your life and actions. Do not look at anyone but yourself. Check your motives and heart. Do you volunteer to pray because you want people to hear your prayer or are you praying to God? Do you preach and teach the scriptures because you are really striving to live like Christ? Are you a Christian or Pharisee? They are not the same thing.
Have you ever been a hypocrite?