Jesus told them, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites in Scripture: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’” [Mark 7:6 (GW)]
I’ve been reading a book about discovering one’s “authentic” self; among other things, the author concluded that her authentic self wears make-up. I admit to wearing make-up, coloring my hair, wearing a padded bra and using Spanx, but I’d never call that my authentic self! Without a doubt, that’s my more attractive self, but hardly the authentic one! While I don’t consider it “authentic,” trying to appear as attractive as possible isn’t hypocritical. Pretending to be one person in public and actually being another one in private is!
Jesus spent a great deal of time condemning the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Like the Greek thespians who wore masks while acting in the theater, they presented one face to the world while their real one was hidden behind their masks. In fact the word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word “hypokrites” which means actor. The Christian church has taken a lot of flak for being filled with hypocrites and, unfortunately, some of it is justified. I’m the first to admit that my actions often don’t match my words and there frequently is a shortage of spiritual fruit in my orchard.
Fortunately, the validity of Christianity depends on the truth of Jesus Christ—his death, resurrection and ascension—rather than the behavior of His followers. We’re all sinners and even the most devout among us misses the mark on occasion (or frequently, in my case). Being a Christian doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with sin—Jesus set a high standard and we all fall short of it. Nevertheless, we can do our best to live as we profess to believe by relying on the Holy Spirit to convict, empower and change us. Being a sinner isn’t hypocrisy—it’s just part of being human. Christian sinners know what they are and admit it; they recognize, acknowledge and repent of their sins. On the other hand, hypocrites recognize their sin but neither acknowledge nor repent of it. Clearly, not all sin is hypocrisy; all hypocrisy, however, is a sin!
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. [Ravi Zacharias]