Main Entry: hyp•o•crite
Etymology: Middle English ypocrite, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin hypocrita, from Greek hypokritEs actor, hypocrite, from hypokrinesthai
1 : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
2 : a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
- hypocrite adjective
(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Like the tail of a scorpion the word comes from out of no where and pierces your soul. Injecting painful feelings of guilt, the venom of that one word flows through your being. Your vision is blurred, your hearing is dulled and your ability to speak is impaired. In a nanosecond, you are as good as dead as far as the other person is concerned & the message of love, hope and peace that you were delighted to bring is silenced. What makes the venom as insidious as it is, may be because there is that deep seated feeling (or worse, a belief) that the accuser may be right and have good reason to call us a hypocrite.
Allow me if you will an analogy, of sorts; I make no claim to have extensive knowledge of insects. If any one were to ask me the genus and species of a particular type of scorpion I wouldn’t have the answer. (Or for any other insect, for that matter.) I know how to spell entomology; but beyond that the topic really “bugs” me.
Some how, some where along the road we got this notion that when Jesus called those people “hypocrites” it was said with a self righteous snarl, an upturned nose and furrowed brow; the facial features of disdain, of disgust. Context gets conveniently lost in our religious prejudice and were we to be completely honest with ourselves and with one another we would have to admit that our pride has redefined the word and we have made Jesus mimic us. We have made Him in our image. We say the word with our Pharasaical fangs bared and so we don’t have to admit to ourselves that we need mercy too, we excuse our behavior, (the spirit we are of,) by saying that the gentle Lamb of God was just as harsh, just as critical as were are.
One question. Who did Jesus say that to? The Pharisees, the Sadducees, the people who were trying to live a righteous enough life to merit salvation by the keeping the Law. Which leads to even more questions. Did He ever use those words when speaking to any of His disciples? Has He ever spoken to you like that? Was He really being mean and hateful to them? Did His love some how morph into a conditional love because of the legalistic life they tried to live? Did unconditional love suddenly adopt some conditions? Did the pain, the sacrifice, the bloody hill of Golgotha suddenly exclude them? Who in your world is exempt from Calvary?
Hypocrite! How this accusation, this assessment, this judgment would sting. Injecting its poison, paralyzing me to the point that I was speechless; stunned into submission. Then the aggressor would feast on my soul; reciting with a vengeance my failures, advancing with painful words of sins that God had forgotten.
To be sure I could continue this course for literally page after page, except I be careful I will be found to have only furthered the very cause I want to address; the venom that may now run through your soul could well be strengthened by my words. That having been said; I will leave off here.
My real reason for writing this is to offer a remedy, a relief should it be that you are writhing in the pain caused by this word; either from someone you can see or someone you cannot. Lest we forget, this label, “hypocrite” is certainly in the arsenal of our enemy. Lurking, prowling as an angel of light he delights to mimic the Spirit and though we are aware of it or not, there are those times we believe this to be a word of correction spoken by our Father. Hearing it from people and answering it is so much easier to deal with, but when it comes at a time when we are alone, the dose of venom is seemingly doubled and so much more painful.
Hypocrite. Reread the definition above. Now, if you will, allow me a paraphrase for the sake of clarification. My rendering; one who holds a standard by which to live yet fails to keep the imaginary demands of this self imposed law.
A. One who strives to keep a set of rules, laws or regulations in order to maintain their worthiness, which is a condition of being in a relationship.
B. One who is fearful of being seen as themselves, they pretend to be someone other than who God has, at this point, made them to be. Fearing He has missed the mark in His dealings with them, they make up what they imagine to be lacking so they will be accepted by those whose company they desire.
The man who processes, packages and sells drugs is not a hypocrite. He has lived up to the standard he holds for his life, his behavior, his attitudes & lifestyle.
The person who lurks in a dark room perusing pictures of perversion foisted upon young victims is not a hypocrite, they are upholding the standard by which they live.
The list is endless, as you can imagine.
For you and I? The answer is simple; too simple. We have a standard by which to live and cannot. What may take the sting out of that word is to simply agree.
“Yes, at any given moment, I can be and I have been; but the good news is: He is my righteousness. The standard by which I must live I cannot, in and of myself, and at this moment I have displayed behavior/conduct not in keeping with the demands of the law, (whether it be the law of scripture or your imaginary assumption of any standard at all), but I can only answer with this; Regardless of your assessment of me, your judgment concerning me, your critique of who I am? My Father does not agree with you. Your words will pass away, His will not.
One exception to this is when the other person has been wronged, yet, even at that, you can still agree, but with an apology. I am not implying that Jesus doesn’t use the word “hypocrite”, all I am saying is that I know He would never use it the way we do and He would never use it for the reasons you and I do.