I find it interesting that the Greek origin of the word “hypocrisy” comes from the theatre. You may know that ancient Greek plays were performed by actors wearing masks. These actors were called hypocrites, not because of any character deficiency, but because they were literally “pretending under a mask.”
This meaning makes sense when you think about people whom you may have considered guilty of hypocrisy. What they are doing is showing the world one face, their “mask,” while pretending to be something they are not. One of these masks is self-righteousness.
Why do you see the splinter in your brother’s eye but not notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when you have the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so that you can remove the splinter from your brother’s eye! (Matthew 7:3-5 CJB)
Jesus’ warning against hypocrisy from the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most humbling passages in scripture. However, as is so often the case when people use the Bible as a defense mechanism, many of us want to put a period where God put a comma (or in the case of the translation used here, a semicolon).
Notice that Jesus did NOT say, “You hypocrite! First, take the log out of your own eye” PERIOD! There is a “then” after the “first” and a “so that” after the “then.” The purpose of taking the log out of your own eye is to clear your vision. And the purpose of clear vision is to successfully complete the task of helping get the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
Jesus is clear in noting that the fault does not lie with the person giving correction, but with the spirit in which it is given, namely that people with issues of their own ought to address those before pointing out someone else’s.
Nowhere in the passage above does it say that it is OK to have a splinter in your eye. It also does not state that one must be perfect to remove a splinter. After all, no human was ever perfect besides Jesus. And since He is clearly advocating the removal of splinters from eyes by people who are less than perfect, it should be equally clear that imperfect people, under the right conditions, are qualified to remove eye splinters.
IMPERFECTION DN= HYPOCRISY
Have you ever tried to be perfect or maybe felt that you wouldn’t measure up if you were anything less than perfect? It’s stressful, isn’t it?
Many Christians fall into this performance trap. Sometimes we get the impression that in order to be worthy bearers of the name of Christ, we can’t slip up, lest the onlooking world accuse us of hypocrisy.
I would like to do my part in helping break this cycle by saying that it’s actually a good thing for the world to see us fail. It doesn’t seem so at first, when we are enduring the taunting, the ridiculing and the finger pointing, but when the dust settles, we have a unique opportunity.
We have the chance to publicly demonstrate personal responsibility by swallowing our pride and owning our fail as well as the consequences thereof.
In other words, we can take off our masks and show the world what’s underneath.
He turned now to his disciples and warned them, “More than anything else, beware of these Pharisees and the way they pretend to be good when they aren’t. But such hypocrisy cannot be hidden forever. (Luke 12:1b TLB)
The few of you who have stuck with me during the LONG pauses between posts in this series may have wondered what the delay was all about.
I knew that I was going to be closing out my series exposing the hypocrisy of the “=” movement by talking about hypocrisy itself and how those who bring that charge the most strenuously seem to be the guiltiest of it themselves.
Then I looked in the mirror one day and saw the log. So I’ve been spending the past several weeks trying to figure out what to do with this log in my eye.
You see, the thing is, I’m a wanderer. I guess we all are, because we are all susceptible to sin in general and the sin of pride in particular, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of wandering lately. I can totally relate to what Paul was feeling when he wrote this to the Romans:
I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.
I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t. When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.
It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind, I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.
So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? (Romans 7:15-25 TLB)
I think at some level I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish this without dislodging my log.
But then I considered the question that ends the passage above. Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Well, duh. Jesus already did. I’m still working on my wood-vision, but at least I’m aware of it. The fact that I want the log out of my eye is the evidence that it is possible. Especially when I consider the alternative:
If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it. There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 TLB)
The unfortunate fact that I am prone to wander from the Truth does not make the Truth any less true. Therefore, it is not hypocrisy for an imperfect messenger to deliver a perfect message to someone that would benefit from it.
For this reason, I will press on, and continue doing what I have been called to do.
Because falling down DN= falling away.