Psalm 26; Matthew 23:11–15; Titus 1:5–16 (read online ⧉)
“One of their very own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason, rebuke them sharply, so that they may be sound in the faith and may not pay attention to Jewish myths and the commands of people who reject the truth.”Titus 1:12-14
This is oddly comforting. That there were such people that Paul recognized as Christians is astounding in our current age. People are quick to call Christians hypocrites (including other Christians). Yet, it would seem that there were some lying, evil beast-like, and lazy gluttonous Christians in Paul’s day. It’s not really as if it’s new today. It’s also not as if Paul didn’t have “constructive criticism” for the Cretan Christians. The implication from Paul is that the Cretan Christians should not be identified with the Cretan stereotype. They need to mature in their Christian walk.
Hypocrisy is often a term cast at Christians, for we are not perfect. There was a time where Christians were very much like the religious leaders that Jesus castigates, “You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as fit for hell as you are!” There has been a sea change in American Christianity. There has been a willingness to confront the uncomfortableness of being held to a Biblical standard that the world sometimes seems to understand better than we do.
On the other hand, there is a fundamental misunderstanding, too. Most honest and humble Christians that they have a long way to go. In comparison, the hypocrites were those that acted as if they were perfect. It’s not as if Christians don’t have this problem. Most humans do, as they do not wish to appear weak before others. Often the “we have it together” appears when we don’t say, “I know I have issues.” The other time is when we say “we’re fine” when we’re about to fall apart inside. These, however, are common to humanity. So, Christian hypocrisy (which definitely exists) applies when it refers to a Christian ideal.
An easy one is reading the Bible. If you tell people they ought to be reading their Bible daily, you’d better be doing it yourself. On the other hand, were you to say, “We all should seek to read the Bible and connect with God at least daily,” that indicates that you don’t measure up to the standard/expectation and that you know others don’t either, yet still acknowledging that there is a standard to strive to achieve.
And this is where it gets interesting. There are those that will call you a hypocrite for you don’t live up to the standards you call for and acknowledge that you don’t meet. Christians are called to live up to a standard (Jesus Christ) that they can never meet and will spend their lifetimes pursuing. That is not hypocrisy, that is being a disciple.
Father, you send us Jesus as are the source of our eternal life. Jesus, you are the one we seek to resemble. Only by the Holy Spirit are we being transformed into your likeness. Holy Spirit, as the world seeks to keep us from being transformed encourage our souls to pursue Christlikeness. Amen.
1) Have you ever feel like an “impostor” Christian, never measuring up? If so, how so?
2) What is your definition of a hypocritical Christian? Is that any different than a non-Christian hypocrite?
3) What is an area that you call others to a better Christian walk? How are you doing in that area? If you were to broaden that area to a larger or more general application, how are you doing?