If I had to choose one reason an unbelieving world remains unbelieving, hypocrisy would be it. Judging by the most condemnatory Chapter in the Gospels (Matthew 23), I believe Jesus might agree. Hypocrisy kept me from Christ for 51 years. I saw too many bad examples to want to go there.*
Hypocrisy is two-faced and double-minded. Hypocrisy is pretense. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another. It's looking clean, but acting dirty. It's claiming an Authority you do not have. It's church-going, but not church-being. It's Scripture in word, but not in deed. Hypocrisy is a dead-end road.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: I know you hate hypocrisy. Jesus knows it, too. Your #1 job is to set the record straight about Who He is--by your public example of humility, love and truth. When you mess up, fess up. Be real about it. Ask forgiveness. That's a good example, too.
Nevertheless, if given an opportunity, hypocrisy will creep up on you--by way of 'Self-indulgence' (Matthew 23:25). Because selfishness hardens the heart. 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me' (Luke 9:23). Please note the word 'daily.'
Consider common signs of hypocrisy:
1) Judgment and complaint: 'Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye' (Matthew 7:5). 'Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless' (James 1:26).
2) Show-off prayer: 'When you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men' (Matthew 6:5).
3) Show-off power: ' 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your Name, cast out demons in Your Name, and done many wonders in Your Name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' ' (Matthew 7:22-23).
4) Show-off discipline: 'When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting' (Matthew 6:16).
5) Show-off charity: 'When you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do' (Matthew 6:2).
6) Shame of outsiders: 'Before certain men came from James, he Peter
used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself... the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him' (Galatians 2:12-13).
7) Love of rules: not people: 'Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox... and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman... whom Satan has bound--think of it--for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?' (Luke 13:15-16).
'For you pay tithe... and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith' (Matthew 23:23). 'If someone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar' (1 John 4:20).
Jesus did none of these things. Concerning those bearing His Name--but not His Character, our King says: 'Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: deny yourself, affirm God and stay real.
To Be Continued...
* Matthew Chapter 23: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%2023&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Christian Pitfalls series.