Text: Luke 11:37-12:3 | Listen to Message
Let’s Stop Pretending
It’s easy to spot the tiniest speck of hypocrisy in others but we’re reluctant to see even the most blatant duplicity in ourselves. No one wants to admit there’s a disconnect between my stated beliefs and my actual behaviors – that there’s dissonance between my reputation (who I portray myself to be) and my character (who I really am when no one’s looking).
And because recognition is the first step to repentance, this is often the reason we spiral further into hypocrisy: we’re not willing to confess to ourselves and to God that we ourselves have a problem.
If you are willing to look in the mirror, Jesus gives you 8 ways to spot hypocrisy and one way to deal with it decisively:
1. You’re more concerned with looking godly than being godly.
Does your goodness go all the way to your core being or is it superficial? Are you interested in God changing your heart or are you more interested in people thinking you look like the real deal on the outside?
2. You’re more concerned with the miniscule than the massive.
Do you always seem to notice the speck in another’s eye but you don’t notice the log in your own eye? Do you strain at gnats and swallow camels? Do you obsess over legalistic minutiae – and that stuff really bothers you – while you yourself are failing to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God?
3. You’re more concerned with being respected than being respectable.
Do you demand that others respect you or do you earn their respect? Are you cranky because other Christians don’t admire you the way you want or do you commit yourself to developing universally admirable qualities like kindness and integrity?
4. You’re more concerned with deceiving than defending God’s people.
Do you disguise the defilement in your life in order to defend a false narrative about yourself? Do you corrupt others by pulling them into your web of bitterness and blame and deceit? Or do you protect the Church by confessing areas where you’re walking out of step with the Gospel?
5. You’re more concerned with controlling behaviors than carrying burdens.
Are you trying to get other people to do what you want by imposing your opinions on them? Are you trying to control and change behaviors with external regulations and boundaries? Be honest: are you just crushing people with more and more layers of rules that nobody can possibly keep? Or when your brother or sister falls, do you rush to be the first to give grace and help them up?
6. You’re more concerned with show than submission.
Are you sharing that song, that sermon, or that Scripture verse because you want people to think you honor the things of God? Or is your public show just a feeble substitute for actual obedience from the heart?
7. You’re more concerned with law than gospel.
Do you read the Bible to enjoy Jesus and the Good News of forgiving, redeeming, transforming love? Are you merely finding rules to obey (when you feel like it), patterns to copy (if and when it suits you), and principles to live by (when others are looking)? Are you bludgeoning others with legalistic moralism or are you offering a cold cup of living water?
8. You’re more concerned with catching others in sin and covering your own sin than you are in confession.
How much time and energy do you spend in reflection and repentance vs. the amount of time and energy you spend critiquing and criticizing others? Are you more interested in fault-finding or in genuine and immediate forgiveness?
What all of these 8 things have in common is that they all put an emphasis on appearing righteous externally over being righteous from the heart. But do you understand where this comes from? Do you understand why you think and act and talk this way?
Hypocrites think their identity and worth are found in what they appear to be doing for God and/or humanity and/or the causes they believe in.
And therein lies the single cure for hypocrisy: Hypocrisy dies when you look to Jesus and believe the Gospel that your real identity and worth are found not in your performance (real or pretend) but in his grace.
If you see that, your duplicity serves no purpose! No longer do you need to “rewrite the record” and pretend that you’re better than you actually have been and are. No longer do you need to highlight your successes and hide your failures – neither of those things define you! No longer do you constantly feel the need to point out the failures of others in order to make yourself feel superior by comparison. Jesus tells you who you really are – forever and unchangeably – in him! And this truth sets you free to be transformed from the inside out.