What is hypocrisy?
What constitutes a hypocrite?
The word originated in the theater. It was used to refer to an actor playing a part, and along with that, a hypocrite derived his livelihood and his identity from the applause and acclaim of others. A hypocrite’s life was about the part he played, not about who he really was. The hypocrite lived for the stage presence, not the real. The public and private lives were totally different.
We see it in the lives of the Pharisees.
“Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’” Luke 12:1-7
People were swarming around Jesus. Thousands were trampling on each other to get close to Him, because Jesus was real. He spoke with authority. He taught truth and He backed it up with the miraculous. What Jesus taught, He lived.
What a difference compared to the Pharisees whose public persona differed far greatly from their private lives. Playing a part was what the Pharisees did. They liked the acclaim. They enjoyed the applause their position afforded. They acted righteously, but their hearts were cold. They looked on the outside as one thing, but the inside was another whole matter. Hypocrisy meant that the outer life didn’t match the inner life. And because they were living a part, they assumed their private lives could be separate, just like the stage actor.
They were so very wrong. The inside was who they really were, and Jesus knew. He saw their duplicity.
Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees.
Their lives were like yeast; it took just a little to make the dough rise. The tiniest amount of leaven and soon the whole loaf would be puffed up. Fake, false, and unreal defined the life of the Pharisee. Secrecy was the leavening agent.
Jesus was the real. His heart was open and true.
“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” What is hidden away in our hearts will be unveiled. Oh, we may think that our secret life doesn’t matter, but Jesus sees it. He knows.
So, does that mean that someday every private thought, every evil motive, all our wickedness and secret lives will be splashed onto the big screen for the world to see? The bad news is, sin will be revealed. The good news is, for those who know Christ, all of it has already been covered over and washed away by the cleansing blood Jesus shed on the cross.
Can I hear an amen?