This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
G L E A N I N G S
F R O M
C H R I S T I A N ’ S
L I B R A R Y
A certain preacher went to dine at the house of one of his hearers, whom he was in the habit of visiting. As dinner was served, the master of the house requested the preacher to ask a blessing. It was no sooner done than one of the children, a boy of about seven years old, asked the following question, “Papa, what is the reason we always have a blessing asked when Rev. Jones dines with us, and never at any other time?” Well spoken child! And if your father answered you or not I do not know. But I will give you the answer and it is just one word – hypocrisy! It is a very sad and humiliating thing for those who profess to be religious and devout Christians (and non- Christians) to be Christians at supper and unbelievers in their shops, or ‘saints abroad and devils at home.’ The main reason for writing this article is to draw as clear as possible a picture of the religious hypocrite. This picture might be described as a “portrait”. I will not be sketching it from imagination. It is no caricature. There is no artistic merit in it, but I am convinced that it has the fidelity of a photograph. Even those of us who have been taught better may see in some of the features more than a faint resemblance to our own. Therefore, as we read on, it will do us good to keep in mind the need for self-examination and personal application and not read so that we can point our fingers at somebody else, and condemn them. If we want to point fingers let us at least start by pointing them at ourselves. “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7.3-5) The two original words in Greek; hupokrisis meaning stage-actor, someone under an assumed character, to conceal under a false appearance; to disguise; to pretend, and hupokrites meaning deceit; acting under a
feigned part, give us a concise and clear description of what a hypocrite is and what he does. But there are more clear evidences in the life of a hypocrite, and the following are only some of them since many more could be added. The first mark of a religious hypocrite is that his speech and his actions are contrary to one another. He leads a double life and can ‘blow hot and cold’ with the same breath. He can speak like an angel, he can quote biblical texts with the greatest rapidity; he can talk concerning all matters of religion; whether they be theological doctrines or other matters, but he contradicts by his acts what he utters by his words. His mouth is full of piety but his hands are full of wickedness. Yes, God is in his mouth but ‘the world’ is in his heart. His life denies what his lips profess and he draws near to God with his lips but not with his heart. When you compare the hypocrite’s prayers and the course of his life you will notice that the things included in his prayers are the least sought after in his life. He ‘licks with his tongue while kicking with his hind feet.’ The hypocrite’s prayers of Sunday are easily forgotten in the sins of Monday. He talks much but does very little. The 19th century preacher C H Spurgeon recounts the following. ‘The shops in the square of San Marco were all religiously closed, for the day was a religious feast day. We were much disappointed, for it was our last day, and we desired to take away with us some souvenirs of lovely Venice; but our regret soon vanished, for on looking at the shop we meant to patronize, we readily discovered signs of movement within. We stepped to the side door, and found, when one or two other customers had been served, that we could purchase to our heart’s content, feast or no feast. In the same way too many hypocrites keep the laws of God to the eye, but violate them in the heart. The shutters are up as if the man no more dealt with sin and Satan; but a brisk commerce is going on behind the scenes.’ This too is Hypocrisy. The second mark of a hypocrite is that he knowingly, and against his conscience, pursues some sinful course, endeavouring only to conceal it from the eyes of men: such as he prefers credit before conscience, an outward, lying, pompous appearance, before an inward, sincere reality. In this he may well be termed a ‘religious atheist’; an atheist masked with religion. The next mark of a hypocrite is that whenever he does right it is that he may be seen of men. He is in himself both the archer and the mark; in all actions shooting at his own praise or profit. He is content to have before him a certain number of good works regularly done. All these he performs without genuine love for God and lacking humility. He also takes great pleasure in seeing himself righteous, in feeling strong, in admiring himself in his goodness like a vain woman admiring herself in a mirror. He struggles to
hide his sins, which he should confess; and publishes his good deeds, which he should conceal. A man I knew who lived upon a smile, And well it fed him; he look'd plump and fair, While rankest venom foam'd through every vein. A further description of a hypocrite could be given. A hypocrite is one who is different in reality from what he appears to be. He looks extremely like what he should be yet has no real substance in him. He neither is what he seems, nor seems what he is. In appearance he is everything and in reality nothing. He is hard on others and easy on himself, trying to impose on them a set of rules, which he himself intentionally disregards. A hypocrite is generally severe with others, and very lenient with himself. He will judge, and condemn, and punish with ‘lynch-law’ every other man; and as for himself, he is exempt, he is a king, he knows no law, and his conscience sleeps and allows him to go on easily in the very sins which he condemns in others. In doing so he deceives his own heart, and being thus deceived, he misses of the power of godliness, and embraces only the form. The hypocrite also has a determined effort to enforce a standard of conduct upon others, which conduct he knowingly and deliberately refuses to apply to himself. He is a defender of orthodoxy, yet is heterodox in his own conduct, embracing much doctrine and little or no practice at all. In his own esteem he knows much and when he rises to speak, you will often feel abashed at your own ignorance in the presence of his superior knowledge. But see him when he comes to actions. What do you see there? The fullest contradiction of everything that he has uttered. He tells to others that they must obey the law: does he obey it? Ah! No. He declares that others must experience this, that, and the other, and he sets up a fine scale of experience, far above even that of the Christian himself; but does he touch it? No, not with so much as one of his fingers. He will tell others what they should do; but will he remember his own teaching? Not he! Follow him to his house; see him when he alone in his room, trace him to the market, see him in the shop, and if you want to refute his preaching you may easily do it from his own life. ‘They (the hypocrites) tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.’ (Matthew.23:4)
To what more can a hypocrite be compared to? He can be compared to a painted fire which emits no warmth and to a picture on canvas which shows fairest at farthest. He can be compared to the moss and the ivy which are not joined to the foundation, but cling and cleave to the outside walls of a building. To a dunghill covered with snow and to a polished tree trunk which is all rotten from the inside. To drones which make much more noise than bees, but they make neither honey nor wax. To whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness To the nightingale, of which it is said that when she is solitary in the woods, she is careless of her singing notes; but when she conceives that she has any hearers, or is near houses, then she composes herself more quaintly and elegantly. I have heard of a painter who, being reprehended by a cardinal for putting too much red in the face of Christ, answered, “It is to show how much He blushes at the conduct of many who style themselves his servants, and consider themselves as His representatives.” I must confess that the wound genuine religion receives from hypocrites and hypocrisy is far more dangerous and incurable than that inflicted on it by the open and scandalous sinner. He lays a stumbling block in the way of others; and tempts them to think that all religion is but mockery, and that all believers are but hypocrites. How much of unreality there is In our religious things, our formal prayers. Our unknit resolutions pour sham hymns, Our make-believe contempt of worldly things – These are a few of the hypocrisies That shame, or rather ought to shame, ourselves, And so much stumble others. Finally we should always keep in mind that, sad as it is, each and every one of us may act hypocritical at times because it is very easy for us to talk one thing and then think and do another but this is different from living a life of hypocrisy. In any case, both should be avoided. Hypocrisy is often chosen because it is an easy shortcut to real holiness, but hypocrisy is pretence, and pretence has no place in true Christianity. Therefore let those who claim to be religious avoid making the above mentioned mistakes, and if we have found that the descriptions given depict the major part of our life, let us do something about it! Let us not be content
with having obtained more information, but let us use it and prayer for grace to apply it that it might bring about real and lasting transformation in our daily life. In a way, it is true what Spencer said that ‘every man is a hypocrite, and grace is the only antidote.’ Reader, I hope you are not leading a double life, pretending to be pure and holy and being really wicked most of the time. That would be hypocrisy. Friend, lead your life so you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the village gossip!
“O Lord, whatever I may be, let me never be a hypocrite! It is better to be the least among sincere men, rather than the chief among pretenders.”
I have not much to offer To Christ, my Lord and King; No wealth, no might, no wisdom, No noble gift to bring. "Five loaves and two small fishes?" But what alas are they Among the throngs of hungry who crowd life's troubled way? "Five loaves and two small fishes?" Not much, dear heart, 'tis true; But yield them to the Master and see what He can do! Placed in His hands of mercy Thy little will be much. 'Tis not thy gift that matters But His almighty touch!
All the above material is ‘gleaned’ from books in my library. (Totaf)
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.