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Devotions > Hypocrisy in the Church?

27 May 2013

It has been often said that the Church is full of hypocrites.  Do you believe this to be true or false?    Jesus specifically taught about prayer and hypocrisy in Matthew Chapter six during what was perhaps His most specific instruction regarding prayer.    Jesus said essentially, acceptable prayer that seeks and finds God’s answers cannot flow forth from a heart of hypocrisy.

Matthew 6:5-6 (AMP) 

Also when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by people. Truly I tell you, they have their reward in full already. 
But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open.            
(Emphasis added)

Jesus, being God, looks at our hearts.     The heart of a hypocrite is divided at best or in sync with the world at worst.     This is a heart that believes by play acting its owner can control and manipulate the world around him.    Hypocrisy flows out of a self-centered heart.    The word translated hypocrisy is a word that means acting or playing a part.    Jesus instructed when we pray we must be seeking God with an authentic heart, with eyes and a heart for Him alone.

Let’s think again about the Church in North America.   From personal observation and some involvement it appears that a relatively small percentage of persistent participants will meet God’s standard of authenticity such to avoid any charge of hypocrisy.   Could it be that we are all guilty of hypocrisy to some degree?

If we were to look at prayer in the Church of North America from heaven’s perspective, we might see that the Church is praying little, if only prayer from an authentic and devoted servant’s heart is exclusively what is considered to be real prayer.  

The condition of our heart is critical in our prayers.   Ron Susek, recently in his weekly communication shared this clear and convicting thought:

God looks upon our hearts more than He listens to our words. Nothing produces answers to prayer more than a heart rightly related to God. Jesus said, "If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask what you will and it will be done" (John 15:4). –      ( from Ron Susek,  Susek Evangelistic Association May 22, 2013 )


 In our culture we often make the main thing appearances.   Dress for success is our motto.   Is it any wonder that we strive to manufacture and maintain the impression that we are sitting pretty and all is well with our soul?   Could it be for believers the difference between our authentic heart sense of well being and the image we attempt to portray represents the extent of our personal hypocrisy?


If someone from the world thinks that the Church is filled with hypocrites are they likely to be drawn to the idea of salvation if salvation has little impact on the integrity and authenticity of our lives?    How is your salvation impacting your life and witness?   How is your relationship with Jesus impacting your prayers?


Perhaps there is a connection between these two?   If we come to Jesus, authentically seek to abide in Him and to have His words abide in us, then our prayers may be more powerful and perhaps at the same time our witness will become more attractive as God’s love flows through our lives into those around us.


For the sake of our prayers and for the sake of our witness, but more importantly for the sake of His Name and His Kingdom we must not simply write off the idea of hypocrisy as a non-issue, but rather we should ask God to examine our hearts and actions and reveal any hypocrisy residing in our hearts.   It is only when we recognize where we are in the eyes of God, will we cry out for His help and receive it.


In either our prayers or our witness, our hearts are like a powerful magnet.   One pole is authenticity which has tremendous drawing power.  The other pole is hypocrisy which has amazing power to push away.   May our God teach us and help us to be used for His kingdom in powerful ways as He refines our lives by His Spirit.


Ephesians 3:16-19 (AMP) 
16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality]. 
17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, 
18 That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 
19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!

Jeff Williams