February 18, 1992
Professional Counselor Larry Crabb says that Christians, no matter what how they live, are hypocrites. He quickly adds a qualifier — Christians can make a choice regarding what form their hypocrisy will take.
To understand Crabb, it is important to have a clear definition of hypocrisy. We usually think of hypocrites as people who pretend to be good but are not, people who are nice to our face but stab us in the back. Webster’s Dictionary broadens the definition. It defines hypocrisy as: feigning to be what one is not, or to believe what one does not believe.
In other words, if I pretend to be an opera singer, when clearly I am not, I am a hypocrite. (My first performance would reveal the hypocrisy.) However, there are two ways to look at this. If I really was an opera singer, say an excellent soprano, but told everyone I could not sing a note, I would also be a hypocrite.
Notice Webster’s definition includes pretending to believe something as well as pretending to be something. I gather from that some people who say they believe in something or someone, when they really don’t, are hypocrites too. Without intending to be unkind, this might include parents who tell their children about the Easter bunny or the tooth fairy.
Taking this into the realm of religion, hypocrites are people who pretend to be what they are not, or pretend to believe but really have no faith. But it could also mean people who really are Christians and who really believe in Christ but say or act otherwise.
The first description we immediately recognize as the charlatans who masquerade their way into the church, fleece the flock, and leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. They are the business people who go to church on Sunday and conduct unethical business practices the rest of the week. They profess faith but do not possess it.
But what about the other kind of hypocrite, the one who is really a Christian but acts and talks like everyone else? Actually, this sort probably does far more damage in the church and to the reputation of Christianity than the other kind because few people can distinguish between these and the charlatans.
What is behind this strange form of hypocrisy? Well, when a person becomes a genuine Christian, they receive a new nature. This new nature is to govern their lives. However, the old nature, with its habits and selfishness, can have a strong influence if allowed to do so. When I was a new Christian, and sometimes even now, strong desires of the old nature try to govern what I do. In fact, sometimes obeying God seems unnatural — and doing the right thing, when I don’t feel like it, makes me feel like a hypocrite.
At that point I have to choose what kind of hypocrite I want to be. Am I going to be true to the new creature God says I am? Or am I going to be true to my old desires that God says have been crucified with Christ?
Psalm 26 says: “...I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the Lord...” Integrity means being true to who we really are, and if we really are children of God, we ought to act like it, even if we don’t feel like it.
This is Crabb’s idea - Christians have to choose their hypocrisy.
In times of high moral and emotional pressures, something inside me may protest obedience. I may even yell, “I DON’T FEEL LIKE IT!” At that point, I need to remember I can be true to those sinful desires but I will be a hypocrite to what I really am. But if I choose to be true to what I really am, I will be a hypocrite to my sinful desires. The Bible says it is okay to be that kind of hypocrite.