One Sunday morning, Mahatma Gandhi attended a Christian church somewhere in the Bible belt America. Perhaps you have seen pictures of M.G. (like the one above) skinny, baldy, sporting an antique-looking eye glass, austerely and simply clad with white apparel, typical attire of an Indian guru. Apparently his disgusting appearance turned off many members of the said church. Gandhi naturally saw the sneered looks on their faces. He felt the strong vibrations of dislike and prejudice and discrimination against him. After the incident, he openly expressed his disappointment of the way some of the church people regarded him. He commented to his American colleagues that in his home country India there is a caste system. He felt that in the great and famous America there was much worst kind of caste system because it exists even among typical evangelical American churches.

A Caste is any of the social divisions into which Hindu society is traditionally divided, each caste having its own privileges and limitations, transferred by inheritance from one generation to the next; jati.  [Source: Dictionary.com]

Later, recounting the incident to a Christian friend, he wrote in one of his letters: “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians, because they are not like your Christ.”  Perhaps when he said this, Mahatma Gandhi was still thinking of the hypocritical spirit that some evangelical American Christians apparently have shown him.

Mahatma Gandhi later wrote about his perception of religion: “There is no religion higher than Truth and Righteousness. If we commit sins with the name of God on our lips, can we hope to win the grace of God? Suppose one man admits the existence of God, but lives a life of falsehood and immorality, while another knows not the name of God but lives a life of truth and virtue, can there be any doubt as to which should be regarded truly religious as well as moral?”

He is saying that if we profess religion by invoking the name of God on our lips and even make full-proof witness to others the existence of God yet we live a life of falsehood and immorality, Gandhi alluded we are a bunch of hypocrites.  Regrettably there are indeed ugly evangelical Christians in the body of Christ.

The Greek word HOMOLOGIA which is translated PROFESS in English, the word homo means same, and logia means word.  A Christian then who professes religion should live exactly the same in conduct as his word.  His Christian profession jives and harmonizes with his Christian confession.  If he is NOT in practice who and what he claims to be by his word, he is simply a hypocrite.

Hypocrite comes from a word which means “to act a part as on a stage.” The hypocrite is a play or a stage, or a movie actor–one who pretends to be what is not in real life. For example, a villain in the movies usually portrays or plays a role, usually a bad and evil personality which in most cases is not true in his/her real life. S/he is just play-acting a role required in the script of the movie. Or s/he is simply playing a hypocrite.

The spiritual leaven of hypocrisy has permeated the mystical body of Jesus Christ–the Church!  The hypocrisy of professing Christians has served as an excuse for many to disregard the claims of Christ, saying, “The church is full of hypocrites.”  Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.

Spiritual hypocrisy is deliberate deception, trying to make people think we are more spiritual than we really are.  It has been said that “a hypocrite is a person who is not himself on Sunday.”  Hypocrisy is the hiding of the things you do, not because you were not supposed to do them, but because you would be ashamed to have them known where you are known.  Now the doing of them is foul, but the hiding of them, in order to appear better than you are, is fouler still.

Someone wrote that “hypocrisy is the vice of vices.” The hypocrite gives his tongue to virtue, but his heart is given to vice. The hypocrite loves to talk THE TALK but not walk THE WALK. He is a NATO Christian, which means “No Action Talk Only.”

We are all prone to the deadly sin of hypocrisy. We’ve all been guilty of trying to impress others with our commitment and devotion to Christ, even though we know in our heart that we are exaggerating. We put on our spiritual mask when we’re around others, even though we know, and our family knows that we do not live as we profess to live.

Perhaps some of us oldies remember the country classic song popularized by The Platters in 1953, “The Great Pretender.” Portions of the lyrics read this way:

Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender
Pretending that I’m doing well
My need is such I pretend too much
I’m lonely but no one can tell
Oh-oh, yes I’m the great pretender…
Too real is this feeling of make-believe…
I seem to be what I’m not, you see

The song talked about a guy pretending that all is well with him on the outside, but in reality is lonely in the inside.  The girl of his love left him.  That song depicts that ugly spirit that most if not all of us possess in varying degrees–that pretentious spirit; we make others believe everything is well with us when in fact it is not.  When a person ask us “how are you?” we readily answer “I am fine thank you!”  All the while we are living a miserable and unhappy lives.  We are great pretenders.  We are all guilty of play acting most of the times in our lives. We are all a bunch of hypocrites whether we like to admit it or not.

That’s why I titled this post Beware of the Leaven of Hypocrisy. 

Jesus always hit hypocrisy hard.  In Matthew 23, He pronounced many woes on the scribes and Pharisees, whom He repeatedly called hypocrites. He warned His disciples, “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).

Like leaven, hypocrisy starts small and unnoticed. Its growth is insidious, that means slowly and subtly. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But if it is not quickly checked, it spreads and soon corrupts us.  It deceives the person into thinking that things are right between him and God, when in reality; things are left and very wrong. He is a rightist in his lip service but he is a leftist in his heart and practice.  Jesus said that hypocrites honor God with their lips, but their heart is far from him.

We are like the Pharisees and Scribes of Jesus’ day.  We appear beautiful on the outside like white-washed sepulchers, painted with white limes or chalk, but within us are full of “dead men’s bones and all uncleaness” or we are full of wickedness and evil.  Jesus  said in Mat. 23:27 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

There is so much more to write about hypocrisy.  But it is suffice to end my article with this laughable but insightful story about the two doctors who live in the same house.  One of them is a Medical Doctor (MD), and one is a Doctor of Divinity (DD).  They share many things in common, like the one telephone in the house.  One day their servant receives a call for from a certain caller who wanted to speak with the doctor.  So the servant ask the caller which doctor he wants to speak with — the doctor who preaches or the doctor who practices?  

If we are true and authentic Christians we are to be both a preacher and practitioner–we are to practice what we preach.  When we are not practicing what we are preaching we are guilty of the sin of hypocrisy. So let us beware of the leaven of hypocrisy of religion which is extant in the Church of God.  Let it not hypocrisy even be once named among us being the saints of the Most High God.  We are now a new person, and our old life of hypocrisy is now past, and we are becoming more and more like our Creator, in him is no guile neither was deceit found in his mouth nor hypocrisy found in his lips.

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