Being a Hypocrite
Are we hypocrites? In the New Testament there is no sin any more strongly condemned than hypocrisy.
In classical Greek the word hypocrite did not have an evil or bad meaning but simply meant "one who answers". It later came to mean an actor "who is playing a part, putting on an act". Later, the word hypocrite came to mean someone evil, lawless, godless, who appears outwardly to be good. This is the sense in which Jesus often used the word.
Jesus taught that the hypocrite sometimes appears to be righteous for the praise of men. The Lord gave three examples of this hypocrisy.
The first deals with the giving of alms (an act of love or mercy). Notice what Jesus taught, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:1-4).
The second example deals with prayer. Our Savior said, "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him" (Matthew 6:5-8).
A third example is fasting. The Lord taught, "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:16-18).
Jesus taught that when we give alms to the poor, pray, or fast that we are NOT to do these things to be seen of men. The apostle Paul adds, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing" (I Corinthians 13:3). Are we serving the Lord because of our love for Him and the people we minister unto or are we looking for the praise of men? Friend, are we hypocrites?