Hypocrisy is saying we believe something, then living as if we didn’t. Hypocrisy is preaching and not practicing. It says do as I say not as I do. It’s insincerity wearing a mask of sincerity.
Sincere Christians sin. But it’s one thing to earnestly though imperfectly pursue holiness and yet another to say we love God and willfully practice sin.
Many view Christians as hypocrites. Some have concluded this when Christian leaders have fallen. But many have formed this opinion from personal experience with “pious” neighbors, classmates, co-workers or parents who claim to follow Jesus yet fail to back it up with their lives.
The book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity…And Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons records the findings of extensive research conducted over 3 years to try to discover how the younger generation of unbelievers views Christians. Here’s one of their discoveries:
“In virtually every study we conduct, representing thousands of interviews every year, born-again Christians fail to display much attitudinal or behavioral evidence of transformed lives. For instance, based on a study released in 2007, we found that most of the lifestyle activities of born-again Christians were statistically equivalent to those of non-born-agains. When asked to identify their activities over the last 30 days, born-again believers were just as likely to bet or gamble, to visit a pornographic website, to take something that did not belong to them, to consult a medium or psychic, to physically fight or abuse someone, to have consumed enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk, to have used an illegal, nonprescription drug, to have said something to someone that was not true, to have gotten back at someone for something he or she did, and to have said mean things behind another person’s back.”
In other words, many Christians are no different than non-Christians in their lifestyles.
And here’s what Kinnaman and Lyons consider “one of the most important findings” of their research:
“Among young [non-Christians], 84 percent say they personally know at least one committed Christian. Yet just 15 percent thought the lifestyles of those Christ followers were significantly different from the norm.”
It’s sad when people can’t see any difference between the lives of Christians and unbelievers.
Hypocrisy dishonors Christ. It says Jesus is powerless to make a difference in our lives. It says his death and resurrection don’t change anyone. Holiness means nothing. It’s a mask, but underneath we’re just like everybody else.
Hypocrisy undermines our witness. It says our faith is a bunch of beliefs and practices that don’t affect our day to day lives.
Would our kids say though we are imperfect, we really do try to practice what we preach? Or would they say we put on smiling masks of loving, patient parents in church, then take them off when we get home?
Would our non-Christian co-workers say we wear a mask of loyalty and diligence when the boss is around, but take it off to reveal slothfulness and grumbling when he leaves? Would they say we’re truly joyful? Would they say we’re encouragers? Would they see any difference between us and themselves?
How we need God’s grace! May we live sincere lives with nothing to hide. No masks.