Hypocrisy is pretense to being what one really is not, especially the pretense of being a better person than one really is. The word is based on the Greek hupokrisis, originally meaning to give an answer. A hypocrite in classical Greek could be an interpreter of dreams, an orator, a reciter of poetry, or an actor. Originally a neutral term, “hypocrite” gained the negative connotation of pretense, duplicity, or insincerity.
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Peter 2:1–3). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Jesus is clear that we are not to be hypocrites. He has much to say on that. Leadership the Jesus way means we place ourselves last, always. We are transparent. We model living a life of truth, integrity, and honesty in all aspects of our lives.
- 1 Timothy 3:8 — 8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,
- Titus 1:8 — 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled,
- James 3:1 — 1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
- 1 Corinthians 4:1–5 — 1 Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of the Messiah and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Master. 5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Master comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.
- 1 Chronicles 28:8–9 — 8 “So now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Master, and in the hearing of our God, observe and seek after all the commandments of the Master your God so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever. 9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the Master searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
- Malachi 2:6 — 6 “True instruction was in his mouth and unrighteousness was not found on his lips; he walked with Me in peace and uprightness, and he turned many back from iniquity.
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He had many run-ins with the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees. These men were spiritual leaders, well versed in the Scriptures and zealous about following every letter of the Law. However, in adhering to the letter of the Law, they actively sought loopholes that allowed them to violate the spirit of the Law.
- They displayed a lack of compassion toward their fellow man and were often overly demonstrative of their so-called spirituality in order to garner praise.
- Jesus denounced their behavior directly, pointing out that “justice, mercy, and faithfulness” are more important than pursuing a perfection based on faulty standards.
- Jesus made it clear that the problem was not with the Law but the way in which the Pharisees implemented it.
- Today, the word Pharisee has become synonymous with hypocrite.
This is personal for me. I know I can be hypocritical. I pretend I am something I am not. It is more frequent than I like to admit.
- God is good to forgive me.
- God is good to help me learn.
- The lessons of humility are tough but important.