Hypocrisy in the church is a nasty problem but not a new problem. In fact, the very first church in Jerusalem had a couple who became famous (or infamous) for their hypocrisy. Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, conspired to con the rest of the church about their charitable giving. They wanted to look more generous than they actually were.
Hypocrisy is what happens when we try to look better than we are. In fact, the Greek word for hypocrite was originally used of actors in the theatre. We use the word to refer to anyone who puts on an act, pretending to be something they’re not.
Some say the presence of hypocrites in the church discounts the Christian faith. They see hypocrites as proof that the whole church is phony. But actually, it’s just the opposite. Hypocrisy shows there is something real worth imitating.
Think about it: we wouldn’t have fake Rolex watches if there weren’t real ones. There wouldn’t be counterfeit twenty dollar bills if there weren’t real twenty dollar bills. And there wouldn’t be hypocritical Christians if there weren’t authentic, genuine ones to imitate.
That doesn’t mean God condones hypocrisy among Christians. In fact, read the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5) and you’ll see that God dealt severely and quickly with them. They both died. Thankfully, God doesn’t strike down all hypocrites immediately; even genuine Christians can act hypocritically at times (Galatians 2:13). However, Jesus promised that God will ultimately separate the weeds from the wheat, the hypocrites from genuine believers (Matthew 13:36-43)
There are still modern-day Ananias and Sapphiras in the church. I’m grieved by the black eye they give to Jesus and His church. But they are just the shadow side of something real and vibrant. Don’t let them keep you away from Jesus.
For more answers to good questions, download Rick’s eBook, That’s A Good Question. You will find a copy to download here.