One of the most crucial challenges to the modern church is hypocrisy. Yes, that old word from preachers of yesterday is still with us! Nothing makes a Christian witness more difficult than a hypocritical life, and nothing destroys the good reputation of a church more than the hypocrites tenaciously claiming membership in it! Hypocrisy creates the impression that eternal things are not of much value and that holy things are simply a matter of personal taste.
Many of us are like the American Cancer Society employees in the story below......
The Hollywood branch of the American Cancer Society decided to hold a benefit night in conjunction with a professional tennis tournament. It turned out to be embarrassing for them, however, when they learned that a major tobacco company was sponsoring the competition! Officials of the society found out too late that they had committed themselves to selling 500 tickets to an event that was named after a well-known brand of cigarettes. The publicity sent out by the Hollywood chapter portrayed a young woman with a tennis racket in one hand and a cigarette in the other!
Christians of another day had a special dislike for hypocrisy.....they saw it as a type of ecclesiastical cancer that would rob Christians and the church of spiritual life. The Church Father, Augustine, said that "to profess to love God while leading an unholy life is the worst of falsehoods." William Jenkyn above pointed out that it is in the winds of life that we find hypocrisy's weakness.
"Hypocrisy is the loudest lie," said George Swinnock. Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle, offered that "The hypocrite will have the lowest place in hell." John Trapp wrote that "we must not think to dance with the devil all day and sup with Christ at night."
What does God think? Listen to the words of Christ Himself, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocries! You give a tenth of your spices --- mint, dill, and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the Law --- justice, mercy, and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." (Matthew 23:23)
So what does all this mean this week? It means that we must "walk the walk if we're going to talk the talk!" We must avoid hypocrisy at all costs. People of God MUST integrate their faith into every crevice of life: every action and thought must be judged by the question "Is this in keeping with everything I know and have experienced of God?" We MUST live like God's people!
The famous actor Robert Redford was walking one day through a hotel lobby. A woman saw him and followed him to the elevator. "Are you the real Robert Redford?" she asked him with great excitement. As the doors of the elevator closed, he replied, "Only when I am alone!"
Ask God to help you be "real" this week. Remember---what we practice we believe.....everything else is just talk! Walk the walk!