What is the worst thing that people hate in other people? Hypocrisy! And it is alo one of the things that God despises too, as Jesus showed again and again especially when He spoke to the Pharisees.
Nobody likes a person who says one thing but does the opposite. The hypocrite is a person who cannot be trusted, cannot be depended upon and is a two faced liar.
Furthermore a hypocrite is someone who is proud and arrogant. They preach a high moral standard and the nee do be seen to be good, right and true, but then they go out and do the very things they condemn in their words. And that is arrogance and pride. That is why hypocrisy is condemned both by God and men.
Words and Deeds
When Jesus said of people, and especially the false teachers and false prophets, that you would know them by their fruit, He was saying that a persons actions should match their words. What they say is what they should do.
When those words and actions are at odds, then you will see that this person is not being true to themself and they are proving that they cannot be trusted. Thus their conflicting words and actions prove them to be hypocrites.
The contrary is also true that when the words and deeds do match then they are not acting in a hypocritical manner but from the truth of the heart. What they say is what they do for their actions match their words. James said it best in James 1:22-25.
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
He calls for people to be doers of the word of God and not just hearers. When a person does what they say they will do they are not like a person who looks in the mirror and forgets what they look like.
Smoke and Mirrors
Think of that analogy James presented for a moment. The mirror reflects what the person is and shows them what they look like and who they are as seen by others.
Likewise when we follow up and do what we say then our behaviour mirrors what is in our heart and the words of our mouth and so others can see what we are really like. They can look into the mirrors of our heart and know that what is reflected on the outside is what is mirrored on the inside.
But the hypocrite also reflects what is in their heart by their actions too.
However when they do not act in accordance with their words but do the very opposite, they are like one who looks in the mirror and forgets what they look like.
They forget their words and act from their deep desires and hearts to do what they did not say or the very opposite of the things that they said. They forgot they said one thing and did another and so show they are not trustworthy.
It is important that we say and do what we mean. It is important that when we open our mouth we first believe what we say and then we follow up with actions that match our words.
If we cannot do what we say we would be better to say nothing and to hold our tongues. It is for this reason that James also wrote in James 1:19-20,
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
Be quick to hear, that is, listen carefully to what is being said. Then give what is said some thought before making a response. Don’t just shoot from the lip! Consider and weigh up before responding. This is wisdom in action because it may be better not to respond at all than to quickly bite back or commit yourself to something that is not in the best interest of yourself or others.
And importantly do not fall into the snare of anger. Anger is an emotion and no one can think clearly and act appropriately when they are in the grip of strong emotion. When emotions drive your thinking and actions there may well be strife. That is why it is wise to say nothing immediately but to stop and consider before acting, especially if the words that have been spoken to you might provoke anger.
To overcome hypocrisy it is better to say nothing than to be condemned out of your own mouth. As the wisdom in Proverbs 17:27-28 shows us,
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Yes even a foolish person may be considered wise if they will keep their mouth shut, especially when a situation causes emotions to run hot.
And a person cannot be called a hypocrite who says nothing.they may still do the wrong thing, but they are not being false to what they have said. And if they made an error of judgement and then seek The Lord after their wrongdoing, looking to Him in repentance for forgiveness, they will receive His forgiveness. They may have made a mistake but they did not fall to hypocrisy by saying one thing and doing the opposite.
It is a long and often difficult walk we walk as Christians. The road is full of challenges and opportunities where we may fall or come up short.
But The Lord can and will sustain us as we walk with Him, even through those challenging times. Most important is that we do not fall to the way of the hypocrite by pretending to be something or someone we are not. Instead let us all say what we will do and do that and if we cannot do that, keep our mouths closed so we do not fall into hypocrisy.
(Image sourced from The Toxic People and Their networks – Who Are They by Kyrani99 )
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