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ὑποκριτής


If you'd like to stoke the emotional fires in just about any other human just call them this name. Let me explain and translate. Jesus used this Greek root word to describe many of his critics. They were usually Jewish religious elites, most often the Pharisees. The English Standard Version references 20 occasions where this strong and offensive word was aimed at them, including the Gospel parallels. In a broad and general sense these legalists were critical of Jesus' casual approach tho the Jewish law. He healed people on the Sabbath, shared meals with the tax collectors and sinners, generally prayed outside their formulas and pretense, and openly taught the many ways they violated their own religious precepts. The word? You know it. He called them hypocrites. Ouch!


Calling someone a hypocrite is one of the more hostile and insulting verbal interchanges we can aim at another person. An anything goes culture doesn't handle the appearance of judgement people usually see in a charge of hypocrisy. Even more is the universality of human sinfulness, the truth that none of us are without reproof in this life area. To criticize another because of their perplexing or sinful behavior is actually one of the object lessons Jesus addressed with the Pharisees. He said---


You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to

take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Matthew 7: 5, ESV


That's clear enough. It's hypocritical to find fault in others while ignoring our own sinful ways. Ouch again.


A number of years ago there was a moment of personal conviction about a situation in my own ministry life. Yes, I sought to preach God's word with boldness, and serve with compassion, love, and genuine care for our church family. Throughout the year I taught the many themes of Scripture. One of those topics was excess in life. You know, working too long, drinking too much, leisure to an extreme, church busy-ness to the detriment of family life, our love affairs with the techie world, automobile fanaticism, luxurious living, and the human tendency to over-commit, over work, even over play. One evening I was walking through the house and got a gander at me in the mirror. There I was, Mr. Middle Age tipping the scales at 265, 42 inch waist (or is it waste?), XXL sweater, and belt on the last notch. Excess was staring me in the face. Mr. Hypocrite didn't get near the gluttony excess. My bad. Ouch again.


The lesson? Well, the word hypocrite literally references a mask wearer, pretender, perhaps actor. For me the it is the conviction that I should do nothing that contradicts my personal values, the Christian worldview that forms a lens through which I observe life. Yes, and I mean voting as well. Let's get this straight right now!!! In the broadest way I do not know the intimate details about those who read these thoughts every day. Your particulars are basically unknown to me---your worldview, political leanings, religious views, personal tastes, education, favorite team, habits, preferences, biases, styles, or aches and pains. You'll have to line up your life practices and determine if you live according to them or not. The "or not" list may clarify the markings of hypocrisy in your life. All of us should live by our beliefs. Plain and simple. And, vote by them too.


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