READ: MATTHEW 23:11-36; ROMANS 15:7; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:1-21
Jesus Christ had a lot to say about hypocrisy. In Matthew 23, He confronted a group of religious leaders, repeating the phrase, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!” not once, but six times. Jesus called out their self-righteousness. When we think of hypocrites we imagine people trying to appear better than they are. They make a show of being spiritual. Jesus said these religious leaders were like white-washed tombs filled with bones of the dead (verse 27). They look good outwardly, but inside they are full of death and yuck.
We fall into the same trap. We cover our sin and guilt with showy goodness. Our good deeds and Bible studies make it on social media, while the sin in our lives goes unshared. The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word for actor, one who is playing a part. It’s someone pretending to be what they’re not.
But I think it’s also possible to be a “reverse hypocrite.” Let me give an example. I was with my friends once, and they were bragging about the times they got in trouble. One guy took his parents’ car for a drive. One guy got drunk. Then there’s me. I got nothing. I took some cookies from the cookie jar once when my mom said not to. So, I made up some stuff. I tried to sound edgy. I’m not edgy. I like to go home and read books.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever exaggerated something about yourself to sound cool? Have you attempted to make yourself seem like more of a rebel than you actually are? Ever been a reverse hypocrite? Lots of us have done this. Why? Usually because we want to be accepted by other people—and this is a good desire, but when we try to find acceptance by being dishonest, that’s not good. Yet Jesus offers us, hypocrites that we are, full acceptance in His family, no matter if our sins are obvious to others or hidden in the shadows. He loves us, and He invites us to come to Him and be made new, be forgiven, and be our authentic selves.
Who you are before the Lord is the most important thing, and He sees right through all forms of hypocrisy. You can’t fool Him, and you don’t need to (2 Corinthians 5:10, 21). When you find yourself fearing people, you can come to Jesus. Through His Holy Spirit, He will remind you of His unconditional love and help you live in truth before the Lord. • Jeff Weddle
• What kinds of hypocrisy are you tempted toward? We’re all guilty of hypocrisy. Yet Jesus sees us as we truly are and loves us. How can resting in Jesus’s acceptance help us accept ourselves and others?
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you… Romans 15:7 (NIV)