Friday, January 18Spiritual Warfare and Other Cool Bible Stuff

What Does The Word Hypocrite Really Mean?

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Even before I became a Minister, I had issues with people who assumed that Preachers are supposed to act a certain way, based upon public misconception. There seems to be an expectation of perfection when it comes to people who do God’s work, as if the laws of nature no longer apply to us. People tend to forget that we are people too, and we are far from perfect, although many Preachers would like to portray their “perfect” lifestyle.

I put “perfect” in quotation marks because its just an act for the most part. Jesus was the only sinless man to walk this earth. We all have a past, and our past is what brings us to the point we are at now. Most people don’t know what a hypocrite truly is, but there are quite a few hypocrites that hold the office of Preacher. Most people tend to believe that a hypocrite is one that says for you to do one thing, while they do another. That’s not really what the word means, so lets look at it from a defined perspective and the origin of the word.

  1. A person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, esp. a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.
  2. A person who feigns some desirable or publicly approved attitude, esp. one whose private life, opinions, or statements belie his or her public statements.

In layman’s terms, its someone who wants you to believe they live a certain way, or lead a certain lifestyle, when they really don’t. It has nothing to do with them advising you on how you should live your life, while they live theirs in a different manner.

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The Greek word “hypokrites” is where we get our word hypocrite.

  1. This was a term generally applied to stage actors.

Some of you already know, and some of you will find that many Preachers are stage actors. I say, keep it real. Lets assume there is a Preacher that has a drinking problem, and he warns his congregation about the troubles of alcoholism. I wouldn’t call him a hypocrite, because he is warning, teaching, or advising them on something that is physically, mentally, and spiritually damaging to them.  However, if that same Preacher has a drinking problem, but says that he doesn’t even touch the bottle, he is a hypocrite and a liar.

The Bible uses the word “hypocrite” 11 times in the Old Testament and 20 times in the New Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus uses it to describe religious leaders that act for the glory of men.

“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrite do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” – Matthew 6:2

“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.” – Matthew 6:16

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” – Mark 7:6

Each time the word is used, it is used to describe someone who is trying to appear to be someone or something that they are not. In the first point, the religious leaders could give their tithes secretly to the glory of God, but they make a big scene for men to see and know what they give. They are pretending to do it for God. In the second point, they are putting on a show again, for men to take notice. And finally in the last point, they speak so that men believe that they are living for God, but in reality, their heart isn’t in it, and they are putting on a show.

I would like to encourage you to change your ways if you fall into any of the above. It not only looks bad when you get put on blast, but the Bible makes a few points about the rewards of hypocrites.

“So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite’s hope shall perish:” – Job 8:13

“He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.” – Job 13:16

“For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.” – Job 15:34

“For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” – Job 27:8

“And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” – Matthew 24:51

I would admonish you to use word “hypocrite” selectively,  sparingly, and in proper context. Unless you know what someone does behind closed doors, its best not to use the word at all.

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