Hypocrisy is defined as; “the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense; a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude; a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.”
In this cultural moment, virtue signaling is all the rage. Everyone seems to be putting up a front to show the world how good they are to elevate their social position. Often times, people equate hypocrisy to Christians. I totally agree! All Christians are hypocrites! Jesus Christ had red-hot scorching words toward (all) hypocrites.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
‘Why’ are all Christians hypocrites?
The answer is very simple. Christians are hypocrites because (all) Christians are humans and (all) humans are hypocrites, we all fall short (see Romans 3:23). To put a Christian in a separate category of humans is a category error (error in logic). I hear people say, “the church is full of hypocrites” or Christians are a bunch of hypocrites!” That is absolutely true. You’ll get no argument from me. Here is the deal. An honest assessment of ourselves reveals our own hypocrisy regardless of religion, race, gender, age or ethnicity. Every human being is hypocritical to some extent. We all have claimed something virtuous or high-minded about ourselves that we know is not true. Our inner-self betrays our outer actions. Hypocrisy is a human problem.
So, what is the antidote for hypocrisy? Some would automatically say, “integrity is the antidote to hypocrisy!” I can’t completely agree with that position. It is impossible for a human to possess 100% integrity 100% of the time. You (and I) will break the speed limit, roll through a stop sign, forget to say ‘thank you’, fail to pay your taxes with 100% accuracy, forget to return a call or email, exaggerate a story, forget a birthday or anniversary, feign humility, not tell the whole story (wife asks ‘do you like my dress?’ and you say ‘Why yes dear!’ when you don’t like her dress), fail to come through on a promise, decide not to workout, sleep through an alarm clock, think unkind thoughts about someone but you’re nice to their face, show up late to a meeting, fudge on your diet, etc. I would be a hypocrite if I claimed I NEVER did any of those things ever.
The antidote to hypocrisy is transparency
If we accept the fact that we cannot have 100% integrity 100% of the time, we are not surrendering. We are actually admitting what is true for everyone. Integrity is something we strive for in life. That is a good thing. Transparency is the the admission that “I’m not perfect because I will say things that do not match my actions.” Admitting my hypocrisy does not excuse it. It allows me to own my failure, repent and learn from it. If I’m willing to be open and honest about my hypocrisy by being transparent, it will be extremely difficult for me to hoist the charge of hypocrisy against someone else.
Let’s be intentionally transparent with one another and encourage each other to be open and honest. Let’s hold each other accountable understanding that we are all going to be hypocrites to some extent. That does not excuse it. It is just an honest admission of what is. Try being transparent when hypocrisy raises its ugly head. See how people around you respond to your transparency.
If you think the church is full of hypocrites, you are right. But, we always have room for one more.
Here is a link to a recent sermon by Dr. Ted Kitchens entitled “Are All Christians Hypocrites?”