As we go through life we set standards. Standards for ourselves, family, friends, the clerk at the grocery store, you name it! We probably expect them to be, or act, a certain way. And when they fall short of the standards we place on them, we get angry or upset. However, we don’t always look in the mirror at ourselves. We are quick to judge others and point out their faults, but we never really take the time to evaluate ourselves and see our own hypocrisy. This applies to religion as well.
We are quick to point out to someone that they need to be reading the Bible more, or praying more, but are we really doing that ourselves? We set a standard for “church-goers” because we expect them to be “religious” and to do everything perfectly. However, we ourselves are far from perfect! Judging someone is like us saying ‘they are worthy of God’s judgement, but we are not’. The Bible tells us we have no excuse for such things (Romans 2:1-4). Condemning others while excusing ourselves doesn’t get us anywhere in our relationship with Christ, rather it causes us to hang onto our self-righteousness and sin. It keeps us in bondage, and the only way out is through Jesus.
Jesus is the only justification. For example, when we do something “off standard” that we are aware of, our first resort is to look for something someone else did wrong so we can say: “well, at least I wasn’t that bad!”. It’s a way to make us feel better; a “self-justification”. These instances happen every day, even when we don’t notice we are doing it. At home, at work, at school, and especially at church. We need to take a step back and examine the log in our eye instead of trying to take the spec out of someone else’s eye.
As Christians, we are called to worship one thing and one thing only, and that is Jesus Christ. Most of us, however, find ourselves spending more time and attention on other things instead of our relationship with Christ. Things such as work, drugs, money, T.V., video games, anything that consumes our time and has a higher place in our heart than Jesus. For some, they are obsessed with trying so hard to please God and be obedient that they forget about the relational part. Though religious obedience is godly, it is a form of idolatry and worship of something other (our own goodness and good works) than what we were created to do.
Also, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to spread the “Good News”. What’s the Good News? The message of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us! When we first are saved, we are usually intrigued by the Gospel, but as we grow in our faith we often begin to think we don’t need to read it anymore. In other words, we are too self-righteous to read the Gospel; we’ve got it figured out. However, there is still a need for the Gospel, no matter where we are in our walk with the Lord! It behooves every follower of Christ to read and study the Gospel.
These three major components: judgment, idolatry, and excusing ourselves from the Gospel, are huge factors when it comes to religious hypocrisy. We are called to love one another, not judge. God is the ultimate Judge. We are called to love and worship God, not the things of this earth. We are called to study, spread, and enjoy the Gospel, not blow it off like its nothing. In reality, we may think our life is perfect, and that we are living according to God’s will, but if we are self-seeking or we reject the truth and follow evil, then we need to take a step back and look in the mirror and allow God to work in our lives because if not, we are being hypocritical.
To further enlighten yourself about religious hypocrisy, check out Painesville Assembly of God’s podcast “Romans- Part 3: Religious Hypocrisy” by Lead Pastor, Aaron Taylor.