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Devotional: Hypocrisy, Character, & the Gospel

By Brandon Lemons


This last Sunday’s sermon focused on the importance of growing in Christ-like character.  God expects that Christians will be growing and bearing fruit.  In the New Testament, the main type of fruit is based on a person’s character.  This devotional highlights an example of unhealthy character.  When trying to understand and apply a positive characteristic, it can be helpful to examine the opposite of the characteristic we are trying to develop. 


Matthew 23 contains an extended critique from Jesus toward the Jewish leaders of His day.  Jesus repeatedly called them “hypocrites.”  The term “hypocrite” comes from the Greek word for “actor” – literally “one who wears a mask.”  In a theater production, an actor (or actress, although back then all parts were played by males) pretends to be what he is not.  He plays a part.  Based on this background, a hypocrite is someone who claims to be one thing but is actually something different. 


Please read Matthew 23:25-28, where Jesus calls the Jewish leaders “hypocrites” and describes what hypocrisy looks like, both then and now.  Then, consider these questions:

  • What analogies and references does Jesus use to describe hypocrisy?

  • Why is it so tempting to focus on external appearances?

  • What are ways you are tempted to “wear a mask” in how you present yourself to others?

  • Counselor Larry Crabb wrote: “Somehow we fail to grasp that God’s acceptance makes anyone else’s rejection no more devastating than a misplaced dollar would be to a millionaire.  We foolishly believe that other people’s acceptance represents a legitimate measure of our value.”  Based on this and other truths of the Gospel, how can God free us from the temptation of constantly trying to impress others?


A prayer to pray: Father, I praise you for your unconditional love, that even while we humans were sinners, you sent Christ to die for us.  Please help my heart internalize your love so I will not fixate on outward appearances, which is so easy to do, but instead focus on pleasing and following you.  As you said in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  Please purify my heart and give me a passion for living with integrity and character.  Thank you that even when I fail, you still love me and offer full forgiveness when I confess my sins and errors to you and to those who were affected by my words and actions.  I pray that, on an increasing basis, you will bear through me the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  In Jesus' name and for His glory, Amen.











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