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Hypocrites in the Church

It’s been said that one shouldn’t look for hypocrites in the church. The problem with doing so is that you will find them.  You’ll find them in the pulpit, and the pews, and the Sunday School room. Just like you’ll find them at your work, and at the grocery store, and on T.V.  Perhaps your neighbor is one. Perhaps, even, your spouse is one. They’re everywhere. The hunt for them would be easy because of their sheer numbers. You won’t be able to change your church, or your work, or your neighborhood by engaging that hunt. The task would be too daunting. But you can, in fact, diminish the number of hypocrites in all of those places that you hold dear.  The best way to do that is to have a word with the hypocrite in your mirror. You can change that one. Just turn him or her over to Jesus.

Hypocrisy is nothing more than the result of an unexamined life. Since the fall of man, our hardwiring has been corrupted beyond belief.  Our nature is ruled by self-preservation, the avoidance of pain, and by the pursuit of things we find pleasurable. Challenging hypocrisy in our own lives interferes with all three of those corrupted elements. To see your hypocrisy means you might have to give up a part of yourself, it certainly means you’ll experience the psychological pain of seeing self-deceit, and it will likely put a wet blanket on some things you might enjoy doing.  But thankfully, you don’t have to challenge that sin by yourself. God has given us the Holy Spirit to show us our faults and to lead us into truth (John 16:8 and John 16:13). Trust that Spirit and you can overcome hypocrisy.

Jesus tells a poignant story of a hypocrit (Luke 18:9-14).  He was a religious leader who went to the temple to pray. Another man – a tax collector – who was severely looked down upon by society because of his station, joined him at the temple.  The religious leader, in his pride, thanked God because he wasn’t like the tax collector, and concentrated on his own excution of religious duties. The tax collector, however, wouldn’t even lift his head, but instead prayed for mercy regarding his sinful state.  Jesus noted that the lowly tax collector would be exalted, while the religious leader would be humbled. Jesus pointed out the value of one noticing one’s sinful state.

The truth is that you can’t fix a problem until you look at it, and identify it.  Hypocrisy blinds us to our problems, and puffs us up without warrant over others. Have you asked the Holy Spirit to search you? Do you have hypocrisy anywhere in your life? Do you see yourself as better than others?

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