I wonder how many people out there would say these words to me, or at least want to one way or another? I wouldn't say this is something that really concerns me as I am confident in who I am, and Who's I am, but I suppose it would be interesting to exercise some thought to this topic. Recently I came across a devotional that touched on this subject and I thought it highlighted some very good points, so I thought I'd take it a step further and make it a bit more specific for me.
I suppose my first response to an accusation like that may be a question in return:
Do you think that weak moments in my life represent who I really am, or do you think that my times in prayer, devotion, worship, and deepest and most heartfelt conversations with my wife, kids, or closest friends would better represent who I really am? When your normally loving child is cranky, mean, or gets in trouble, do you see them as being hypocrites, or rather do you see them as having a bad moment, being too tired, or not their usual self?
My theory is that we seem to think that once we are adults, suddenly that criteria changes. If we see someone at a weak moment, we assume their true character is represented by that moment.
Judgment is so easy isn’t it? I catch one person on a street corner take off his poor man’s coat, hop in a car on the other side of the block and take off, and I suddenly begin to associate all homeless people as a bum like this guy. Or how about the person who calls themselves a Christian but had a weak moment in anger, blew up at someone, cursed at someone, told a coarse joke, experienced road rage, lied to a family member, bought or copied a pirated movie, took some office supplies, was caught watching porn, was seen yelling at their kid, self-medicated with alcohol after a horrible day at work, smiled and said they were doing great when inside they were bitter at the person asking, walked past someone crying, drove past someone clearly in need, didn’t return the extra money they got back for change, I could go on, and on, and on, and on …
None of these are good, and they all are sin. However my point is not to state that these are not problems that need to be addressed, but just to ponder what really defines someone and if we need to determine what it means to qualify someone as a hypocrite. Is our real expectation of a Christian someone that is trying to become more like Christ or someone that actually lives a life as Christ did? I think we hold others to a much higher standard that we ought, certainly higher than ourselves.
While this may not be something that a non-believer will understand, as a believer we need to go to the Word with these questions. When we begin judging and labeling people out of our own opinion, that is sin. God has an opinion on hypocrites, that is certain.
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 7:5 ESV)
The point here is that the question itself about determining if someone is being a hypocrite requires judging; we as believers need not even go down that road. If a non-believer is going to judge me, so be it, it’s not my concern. However it’s always a good reminder that being forgiven doesn’t mean we have liberty to abound in sin; we do represent Christ, that much is certain. Let us continue our journey of sanctification and not let the enemy and father of lies get us off track.
A follower of Christ,