We put up with them at work, in the gym, even at church. Hypocrites–those pretending to be something they are not, or pretending to not be something that they are. The sad reality–most of us can look in the mirror and see a hypocrite in at least one area of our lives. Maybe it’s that diet that we have tried and tried to follow, and still ate that bowl of ice cream last night after dinner. Or, maybe it’s that gym membership that we have paid for for months and only been one time. Or, how about the project at work that we say we are giving 100%, but we know deep in our hearts, it’s only 75%. What about church–we say we are faithful, committed, but are we really?
Hypocrisy–the shadow lurking behind human decency. What are we supposed to do with it? When we see it in others, when we see it in ourselves, where do we go?
John the Baptist called them out–in fact, he called them snakes! (Matthew 3:7). So did Jesus (Matthew 12: 34). But, Jesus also sat and talked with one of these snakes late into the evening, and what He tells Him should give us all hope for the hypocrites we know, and the ones we are.
In John 3, Nicodemus, a Pharisee (one of the snakes) comes to Jesus at night. Nicodemus starts with flattery, but Jesus cuts right to the chase–you need a new life. Nicodemus is so confused–how can I be born a second time? He is thinking on the physical level, Jesus is talking on a spiritual plane. Nicodemus, and every single one of us, needs a new life, a rescue from our hypocritical hearts. Jesus goes onto explain, that we don’t understand the wind, but we feel it and know it is real. He uses water and the Spirit to compare and contrast the physical with the spiritual, and in probably the most well-known verse of the Bible, He gives the cure for hypocrisy–“For God so loved the world, He gave….”
God’s love and grace is the only cure for hypocrisy, and when we realize that those around us who are without Him, who do not know His love, are eluding the only cure, we should become bold in our faith and love them enough to tell them. Hypocrites need new hearts.
What about when we look in the mirror and still see hypocrisy, even after we’ve received our heart-love transplant? John tells us what to do about that too. “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, (1 John 1:7-9). The fix for the shadow of hypocrisy is the light that Christ walks in, the fellowship we can have with Him and each other, to keep us honest and keep the shadows of hypocrisy from falling over our lives.
So, when we feel like lashing out at a hypocrite, whether the one in the workplace, or the one in the mirror, lash with love. Give God’s love, share a measure of grace and walk in the light–and watch the shadows of hypocrisy fade out. When it comes to shadows, love and light make all the difference.