The Bible says that "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. . . ." This Scripture became tangible to me after reading a sermon delivered in 1859 by Charles Spurgeon. The sermon titled "Hypocrisy" was preached over 150 years ago but it is as relevant today as the day it was first read. It was this sermon that was the inspiration for this article.
C.H. Spurgeon begins his sermon with a warning to the congregation; "This age is full of shams." Sounds familiar, doesn't it? How many stories have you heard or read where someone was duped into believing a sham and lost everything? The Madoff/Ponzi scheme immediately comes to mind, but there are many, many other stories of shams. The world is full of hypocrites and the Church is not immune to these pretenders, thus C.H. Spurgeon was warning his congregation about the hypocrites within the church.
Hypocrisy: The Miserable Pretender
The definition of a hypocrite is "a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion" and "a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings." He is like a chameleon, he changes and morphs into whatever type of person a situation requires. He describes himself using many positive adjectives but in truth he is a fake, phony, cheat, con artist, bigot, actor, crook, Pharisee, impostor, a wolf in sheep's clothing, and the list goes on.
A hypocrite is skilled at what he/she does and they are able to put on the façade of whatever their intended target wants them to be. The late William F. Buckley Jr. once said about the hypocrite, "I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said."
Eventually you will notice that a hypocrite’s actions are contrary to his/her words. The religious hypocrite will admonish others, telling them they must obey Mosaic laws while he lives a lawless existence when no one is watching. The hypocritical pastor will exhort Christians to give of their finances freely and generously towards the "kingdom of God" while he uses the money to build a kingdom for himself.
For the hypocrite, talk is easy but the walk is difficult. His acts are contradicted by his words. While the Christian has genuine grace, all the hypocrite has is false lip piety.
I'd Like to Thank the Academy . . .
The religious hypocrite excels at doing the right thing . . . when others are watching! His prayers are like eloquent sonatas and they're always spoken in front of a crowd. If the religious hypocrite donates his time or money to a charitable cause, you can bet he will alert the media or the church to advertise what he's done. What he won't make public though is any "back room" deals from the charitable organization to compensate him for his time. Nor will he reveal that the money he donated was not really his but taken from the account of a company that he is either associated with, helps, heads, or is a part of in some way.
The hypocrite sees no profit to virtue and values when no one is looking. Praise is his priority and he does good deeds for applause. Like an actor vying for the coveted Academy award, the hypocrite's prize is the praise and adulation from his audience and the riches and rewards he gains.
As a moth is attracted to light, so is a hypocrite to titles, honor, and respect. The hypocrite is in his element when his ego is being stroked and his pride puffed up through flattery. He
While the hypocrite enjoys the finer things in life, he doesn't necessarily enjoy having to work for them. He will not think twice about accepting an honor or an honorary title on the basis of a lie or misunderstanding. He wants you to not only think of him as a hero, but to call him one too, although in reality he is a coward. He won't think twice about accepting an honor for something that is really not the truth and will perpetuate the lie with a self-serving speech, reminding the public (lest they forget) about how wonderful he is.
Here Comes the Judge!
The hypocrite loves to point out the faults of other people, while hiding his own. He will exhort someone about giving more to the ministry while giving nothing himself. He will admonish a crowd about lustful desires all the while committing immoral sexual acts in secret. The hypocrite will say to someone that he must abstain from certain food, drink, and behavior, while he himself indulges all his ungodly desires.
C.H. Spurgeon said about the hypocrite’s judgmental approach, "He strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel." Meaning the hypocrite judges and criticizes others for petty offenses while overlooking his own considerable offenses.
The hypocrite, he is always ready to give the staunchest admonishments and accepts the greatest praise. He is the best at what he does, always able to make his vises appear as virtues, and the virtues of others appear as vises. Oh, what a "talent," or so he thinks. He lives by the mantra of "Do as I say not as I do" and gives no thought to cheating another. Maybe that's one of the reasons Charles Spurgeon referred to the hypocrite as the "Miserable Pretender."
Although these pretenders will always be with us, there will also always be those who are genuine, kind, and honest. Humility is a virtue which the hypocrite shuns, but pride is deep within his character.
"Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite" ~ Charles Spurgeon. Hypocrisy: The Miserable Pretender.
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