Do you remember the first time that you tasted hypocrisy – the kind that was really ugly? You know, the time when someone really projected genuine concern and love for you and then you found out that behind the scenes they were really ripping you off?
Even in a fallen world, we expect people to be authentic. Yet even in places like the church, we can find hypocrites.
I remember I was only 11 years old the first time I tasted hypocrisy in the church. I was volunteering at my church’s workday when I heard some of the leaders swearing and making rude remarks about other people. They were doing all the things they taught us not to do in church.
When I heard them, my heart just sank. I remember thinking, “All this stuff they teach about Jesus is just a ‘moral straight jacket.’ I don’t know much about God, but if these guys are anything like God, then I don’t want anything to do with God or them!”
Can you relate? Maybe some of you have come out of a tradition where a pastor or leader did something that broke your trust. Maybe you’ve wondered, “Aren’t people supposed to tell you the truth in church?”
But I bet you can also remember the first time you looked in the mirror and you saw hypocrisy in yourself, too.
The truth is we all hate hypocrisy…in other people, in the church, and in ourselves.
But have you ever wondered what God thinks about hypocrisy?
God hates hypocrisy, too. Ephesians 5:1-20 reveals why God has zero tolerance for hypocrisy. As believers, we’re instructed to follow God’s example and live a life that reflects Him and loves other people. This is His heart’s desire for each and every believer.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (v. 1-4)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (v. 8-11)
When we as Christians live in the light, then we winsomely expose evil and sin as the ugly agents of death that they are. And when unbelievers see and interact with us as authentic Christians, it invites them to turn from sin and death and receive Christ. They begin to see that there’s hope by what they see in our lives.
When we’re not walking in the light, instead of exposing the deeds of others, we become a barrier of the message of live through Jesus. Saying “I love God” and at the same time living according to our own selfish desires means we’re hypocrites. And this kind of lifestyle only produces pain, damage and hurt.
When we don’t walk in the light the message of Christ, the power of God in us is nullified. Instead of light coming through us, we become a stumbling block. That’s why God takes this so seriously.
So where are you at today? Do you walk in the light? If you’re not sure, you may want to examine yourself by asking questions like: “Does my speech demonstrate walking in the light or deeds of darkness? What does my commitment to my marriage demonstrate? Or does my conduct at work demonstrate walking in the light or deeds of darkness?”
I’d like to encourage you, as Christians, to walk in love and in the light so that you may expose sin for what it is and invite others into a relationship of hope and peace. If there is ever a time for us to live like Christians, it’s now.
This week, we’re beginning the series, Living Without Hypocrisy. In it, we’ll learn why so many of us find ourselves living shadowy lives even though God calls us to walk as “children of light.” My prayer is that during this series the Spirit of God will help us to turn from the things we know are wrong, and we’ll learn how to live winsome, whole and holy lives.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip