A father took his son to church because he wanted his boy to know about the love and grace of Jesus. During church, the father grumbled because he didn’t like the songs they sang, the soloist was off-key, and the sermon was too long. Once the church service was over, the father cursed about the heat and the traffic as he drove to a restaurant for lunch. When they arrived, he fussed about how slow the waiter was. When his meal finally came, he fumed that it was wrong.
Finally, he turned to his son and said, “Bow your head so we can thank God.” His son bowed his head and listened to his father pray—“Heavenly Father, we thank You for the service this morning. We thank You for our pastor. Thank You for this meal. Bless those who prepared and served it. Please use it to strengthen our bodies so that we might continue to serve You and be a blessing to others. Amen.”
The little boy said “Amen” too. But before diving into his french fries, he asked, “Daddy, did God hear you at church when you fussed about the hymns, the woman who sang, and the preacher?” The father, a little embarrassed, said “Well, yes, son, God heard me.” The boy continued, “Did God hear you when you cussed in the car and complained about the waiter who brought lunch?” The father said, “I shouldn’t have said those words, but yes, I suppose God heard me then too.” Finally, the boy said, “Daddy, did God hear you when you thanked him for the food?” The father replied, “Yes, son. God hears all our prayers.”
The boy thought for a moment and then asked, “If God heard everything you said, then which things did He really believe?” There are two people you can never fool—God, who knows everything, and a child who isn’t afraid to call out your hypocrisy.
Below are four ways hypocrisy can creep into Christianity.
1. The Warning Against Hypocrisy (Matthew 6:1)
A hypocrite is someone who is two-faced. It’s when a person says one thing and chooses to do another. Hypocrisy is not something to play around with. Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them.” In other words, if your motivation for good works is to glorify yourself, it’s not a good thing.
2. The Two Root Causes of Hypocrisy
- A Person is Unsaved (Matthew 13:24-30)
Sometimes the person wearing a mask is an unbeliever. Jesus warned about such pretend believers in Matthew chapter 13. The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares demonstrates how hypocrites can’t grow spiritually because they aren’t saved.
On the other hand, some Christians pretend to have a consistent prayer life, feign love for other people, and claim to be generous in their giving—but their actions tell another story. These hypocritical Christians become stunted in their spiritual growth because they refuse to exercise truths they believe are true—which is why Paul describes some believers as “infants in Christ” in verse 1.
3. The Example of Hypocrisy (Matthew 6:2)
When we had the exterior of our home painted, the painter handed me a bill after he completed the job. After I paid him, he gave me a receipt stamped with large red letters that said “Paid in Full.” Those three words told both of us that I didn’t owe him anything else and he shouldn’t expect anything else. That ended our business dealing—unless I hire him again.
In Matthew 6:2, Jesus says, “…truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Whenever we seek the praise of others, we forfeit the praise of God.
4. Avoiding Hypocrisy In Giving (Matthew 6:3-4)
We used to have a member of our church who was a great Christian businesswoman known for wearing a necklace with one little shovel and one big shovel. People would ask, “What does that mean?” She would say, “This little shovel is what I give to God. I shovel it up to heaven. The big shovel is God’s shovel. It’s what He gives to me in return.” Then she would smile and say, “God’s got a bigger shovel than I do.” You can’t outgive God.
If you’re a Christian, there is no greater joy than using your time and resources to help make sure people are going to be in heaven. Pastor A. W. Tozer once said, “Whatever is given to Christ is immediately touched with immortality.” Isn’t that an interesting thought? What we choose to do with our money during our brief time on earth, as insignificant as it may seem, matters forever.
Even beyond the secret reward of giving for the right reasons in this life, there are future rewards that pay eternal dividends awaiting us in eternity. Paul promised that one day we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be rewarded for the deeds we’ve done in the body whether they be good or worthless according to 2 Corinthians 5:10.
Full Passage: Matthew 6:1-4