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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Avoiding Hypocrisy

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The old joke about hypocrites involved someone who said, "I don't go to church. Churches are full of hypocrites." The punch line was, "Come on in, there's always room for one more!"

While there are no doubt hypocrites in the churches, there is no place for them in the Kingdom. God's promises are for believers, not for those who only pretend to believe. Some of the harshest warnings in the Bible are reserved for the Great Pretenders in religion, the ones who act out a life of faith but inwardly deny it.

Smooth words may hide a wicked heart, just as a pretty glaze covers a common clay pot. People with hate in their hearts may sound pleasant enough, but don't believe them. Though they pretend to be kind, their hearts are full of all kinds of evil. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, it will finally come to light for all to see. Proverbs 26:23-26

I will not allow deceivers to serve me, and liars will not be allowed to enter my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out criminals and free the city of the LORD from their grip. Psalm 101:7

"I hate all your show and pretense -- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry. Amos 5:21-24

"Take care! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. When you give a gift to someone in need, don't shout about it as the hypocrites do -- blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I assure you, they have received all the reward they will ever get. But when you give to someone, don't tell your left hand what your right hand is doing.

"And now about prayer. When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get.

"And when you fast, don't make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, who try to look pale and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I assure you, that is the only reward they will ever get." Matthew 6:1-3, 5, 16

"Why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, `Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye, then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye." Matthew 7:3-5

"The time is coming when everything will be revealed; all that is secret will be made public. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear!" Luke 12:2-3

"Why do you call me `Lord,' when you won't obey me?" Luke 6:46

If someone says, "I belong to God," but doesn't obey God's commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth. 1 John 2:4

Remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law -- the law that sets you free -- and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are just fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us. James 1:22-27

The Book of God's Promises -- Copyright, 1999 by J. Stephen Lang. All rights reserved, used with permission.

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