Tuesday, January 29, 2013

We Should All Be Hypocrites

I'm a hypocrite.

More to the point, I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm hypocrite.

To start this conversation, we all need to be on the same page about what we're talking about when I say "hypocrite". I don't go by the straight dictionary definition, because I don't think people mean the actual dictionary definition when they use this word.

According to dictionary.com, a hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.  The only problem I have with that definition is the word "pretends".  What is the word for someone who actually has principles and beliefs but their actions go against the stated beliefs? I believe this person would still be called a hypocrite in the English language.

So, the simple definition to be used for the rest of this article for hypocrite is: a person who says one thing and does another.

And by that definition, I am a hypocrite. All Christians should be hypocrites.

Here's why: we're broken. I don't care how diligent, prayerful, and dedicated you are as a follower of Christ, you will sin. It is inevitable. That does not mean we just go about sinning, but it is a fact of life that we must accept. (Read Romans 6, and probably a few commentaries and Bible studies for the full import of this sentiment.)

What this means is that even though I stand on the Word of God as truth and perfect guidance, you will occasionally see me mess up. I may take out my bad mood on someone and yell at them. For that matter, I may be in a bad mood and just complain about life. (Philippians 2:14 if you want to reference that wrongdoing.)

My screw-up makes me human, not wrong. But, if I have spoken the truth of God and stated that I believe we should go through life without complaining or arguing, it also makes me a hypocrite.

I teach teenagers. When I teach them, I do my best to tell them what the Word of God says, what He wants them to do, how He wants them to live, and ways that they can live according to His desires. I believe what I am saying to them 100%.

They have seen me screw up. They have called me on it and together we've discussed what went wrong, how I could have done things differently, and what God says about it.

But what if you're not  a hypocrite. What does that mean? Well, it means one of two things.

1. Your life is perfect, or at least appears to be. If you have gotten so close to God that you truly do not sin anymore, I would seriously like to meet you and have you teach me some things. If you have managed to build the appearance of perfection, beware because that house of cards is going to fall down in shambles one day.

OR

2. You aren't speaking the truths of the Bible. This is more likely the reason you aren't a hypocrite. Because in order to be a hypocrite you have to say one thing is true and then do something that belies that statement.

Often it's fear of being labeled a hypocrite that makes us hold our tongue and not tell people about the wonders of Jesus. But look at the opportunities you miss. Every time someone labels you "the H word" you have the opportunity to say, "Yes, you're right, and God loves me anyway. Isn't that amazing?"

Don't be afraid to be a hypocrite. Look at Peter. He was the ultimate hypocrite - denying Jesus three times only hours after committing to stand with him to the death. And yet Jesus said the church would be built on Peter's confession of faith.

Let me close with this. God isn't happy that we're hypocrites. He would prefer we live upright, blameless lives with no blemish on our souls. I would prefer that, too, and I try for it every day. But when I fall, I'm glad His grace is there to catch me, put me back on my feet, and tell me that His love never fails. And I'm glad I get to share that truth, too.

3 comments:

  1. Kris,

    I like the article, but not the word "should" in the title. Should implies a "striving to be" or that "it ought to be" or that "it is mandated to be". I don't think any of us should be hypocrites but regardless we find we are. That's why God's grace and Christ's sacrifice are so important. But of course, this is what I think your are saying.

    Jonathan

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  2. That is a very good point. Hmm... Now I have to find the more appropriate word and change the title.

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  3. So, I thought about changing it. I even tried a few different phrasings. In the end I decided to keep it. For one, changing the title would change the link and I'd already sent the link out to a couple of places.

    The other thing I looked at was Philippians 3 and Romans 7, where Paul talks about perfection this side of Heaven is unattainable. So, I think I'm going to keep the title. Because while it isn't a good thing to be a hypocrite, it's a good thing to be a hypocrite because that means you're sharing and speaking the truths of God.

    One of the dilemmas of the English language. ;) We don't want to strive to be hypocrites, yet we ought to be one through circumstances. Which makes should the right word on one hand and the wrong word on the other.

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