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Hypocrisy is an unpleasant word signaling an empty existence and shallow life. A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be what he is not, or one who pretends to be better than he really is, or wishes to be seen as virtuous without really being so.

Thayer defines hypocrisy as “the acting of a stage player.” Strong defines the same word as “acting under a feigned part, i.e.: deceit.” The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines the word as “the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more laudable beliefs than is the case.”

Does this definition define anyone that came in contact with Jesus? It is the scribes and Pharisees. And Jesus talks directly to them and tells them their hypocritical behavior in Matthew 23:13-36. Jesus is using their behavior as a warning to others and even us. Do not be like the scribes and the Pharisees. Why? Because they are hypocrites.

So, how about us today? Our outward appearance and our inner character must match. In this regard, the poem, The Praying Hypocrite, will help us:

I knelt to pray when day was done, and prayed, “Lord bless everyone;
Lift from each heart the pain, and let the sick be well again.”
And then I woke again one day, and carelessly went on my way;
The whole day long I did not try to wipe a tear from any eye.
I did not try to share the load of any brother on the road;
I did not even go to see the sick man just next door to me.
Yet once again when every day was done, I prayed, “Lord, bless everyone.”
But as I prayed to my ear came a voice that whispered dear,
“Pause, hypocrite, before you pray; whom have you tried to bless today?
God’s sweetest blessings always go, by hands that serve Him here below.”
And then I hid my face and cried, “Forgive me Lord, for I have lied;
Let me but live another day, and I will live the way I pray.”

Those who would grow to be mature Christians must lay aside “guile” and “hypocrisy” (1 Peter 2:1-3), practicing an unfeigned love for both God and man (Romans 12:9, 1 Peter 1:22-23). I hope to see everyone at the place where we can mature and learn to love God and man.

Lance Morrisett
Hooker, OK

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