Gardendale Nazarene

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Hypocrisy | Pastor's Blog | Gardendale Nazarene


When I was in seminary, I had the opportunity to spend time with my great-aunt and uncle, Tommie and Milton. Milton served as a pastor, missionary, and District Superintendent for over forty years. There were very few occasions to spend time with them prior to Heather and I moving to Kansas City. One day as Milton and I sat in his study, he mentioned a Bible passage and said, “This text just preaches itself.”

As a seminary student who spent a semester writing one sermon, I had no idea what he was saying. Last Sunday, we started the sixth chapter of Matthew. This is one of those passages that brings Milton’s words fresh in my mind. There is so much to say about the text, that you can’t fit it all into one sermon.

There is one word mentioned three times in this text (vss 2, 5, 16). The word is ‘hypocrites’. It is not a word we like to talk about in church. Most of the time the word is used when talking about the church. We hear our friend say, “The church is full of hypocrites” or “I’m not going to church, everyone there is a hypocrite.”

We hear those statements and a list of excuses come to mind. We want to explain, “Jesus said that He came for the sick! Just because someone goes to church doesn’t make them perfect!” We are so afraid of being a hypocrite, we don’t spend the time looking at Jesus’ words.

The greek term ‘hypocrite’ literally means, “an actor who wears a mask.” Think about what this means for a moment. Jesus is saying, “When you pray, do not put on the mask of a righteous person. Your prayers must come from your heart.”

Jesus is still dealing with our hearts. He wants us to stop pretending and come to Him out of honesty and humility.

In Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Matthew, he points out three things that hypocrisy robs from us.

Hypocrisy robs us of reality in Christian living- The Christian life is lived from the heart. Hypocrisy means we put on the mask of being a Christian. This robs us from the freedom of living in the life of our Lord.

Hypocrisy robs us of spiritual rewards- Hypocrisy keeps us searching for the approval of those around us. This praise gives the false sense of filling, but ultimately leaves us empty. We replace the approval of God for the approval of man.

Hypocrisy robs us of spiritual influence- The Pharisees used their faith as a negative influence in their world. Hypocrisy robs us of the opportunity to be salt and light.

How do we defeat hypocrisy? The only way to defeat hypocrisy is through honesty with our Lord. When we give, pray, or fast for the benefit of people who we think are watching, we gain nothing. The only gain we can receive is from the One who wants us to live in His fullness.

Wiersbe says it best, “It has well been said, ‘The most important part of a Christian’s life is the part that only God sees.’ When reputation becomes more important than character, we have become hypocrites.”

May you remove the mask that hinders you from opening your heart to your Lord.