Hypocrisy is pretending to possess specific virtues that are contradicted by your behavior. For example, if I preach that extramarital relationships are sinful while I am unfaithful to my wife, I am a hypocrite. If I expect people to listen to my preaching but to ignore my bad behavior, I am a hypocrite.
This week, I listened to a program featuring a celebrity transgender person named Trystan Reese. The turning point of the story is when six-month-pregnant Reese reads a message from a woman that says, “As a Christian, I hope that you give birth to a dead baby because that baby would be better off than a baby that has to born to someone like you.” In the narrative, after reading the message, Reese loses hope and has a horrible nightmare about the baby. Reese says that before the death-wish message “I didn’t know that people hate us.”
The “Christian” death-wish woman in the story is a hypocrite.
A hypocrite is a fake. A hypocrite is a person that behaves in a manner that is incongruous with their professed values or principles. For example, a woman who professes to value love and kindness and grace (Christian core values) while she writes a death wish to another person is a hypocrite, a fake.
Hypocrisy is not a Christian trait. Accusations of hypocrisy should not be limited to Christians. A secular person practices hypocrisy when she states that her core beliefs are social justice, tolerance and inclusivity while she condemns and excludes all Christians.
I have heard, more than once, that all Christians are hypocrites so going to church is a bad idea. This ignores glaring truth that hypocrites thrive in “non-Christian” environments of bars, theaters, clubs, gambling establishments, social groups, and other organizations, but we don’t cry so loudly for everyone to abandon those groups of hypocrites. We target Christians.
We target Christians because their stated purpose is to be faithful and truthful and loving and gracious and forgiving and holy and peaceful and kind and self-controlled. Christians claim to follow Jesus. Christians claim that they want to be like Jesus and to be transformed into the character of Jesus just like the Bible says. Therefore, when someone who takes the name of Christian behaves in a way that contradicts the behavior prescribed in Scripture, they should be called out for that hypocrisy. On the other hand, there is no apparent contradiction when sinners behave like sinners or when pagans behave like pagans. But when Christians behave like heathens, someone ought to say something.
Christian core values like faith, truth, love, grace, forgiveness, salvation, righteousness, holiness, spiritual fruit, and Spirit-empowerment make it so easy to identify someone who is in violation of those values that even a heathen can accurately call out a hypocrite. Calling someone a hypocrite validates Christian values.
If Christian values have no merit, then the accusation of hypocrisy is pointless. On the other hand, accusations of hypocrisy rise from the foundation of Christian values. Truth and righteousness are actually excellent qualities for establishing social relationships. Love and forgiveness, also Christian values, are vital to human relationships. Therefore, accusations of hypocrisy do not call for the abandonment of love and faithfulness, and grace, but rather, accusations of hypocrisy ask us to return to Christian core values because those values are important. Christian values are good for society.
Christians should behave like followers of Jesus Christ. When our behavior contradicts Jesus, we need a call to repentance. When a heathen points out your un-Christlike behavior, you should feel called to repentance. If you have ever sent hate mail to another person, you need to repent and send an apology to ask for forgiveness. If you are not living like Jesus, you are a hypocrite and a fake, and you need to change.
1 John 4:20
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?1 John 2:9 ESV / 464 helpful votes Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
2 Timothy 3:5
Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
1 John 2:4
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. …
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.