Hypocrisy is Hard to Avoid: 3 Kinds of Hypocrisy We’re Especially Prone To

This week the blog is sponsored by The Good Book Company, which publishes Biblical, relevant, and accessible resources like those recommended below.

Become a Patron

Dwight L. Moody once said, “Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian.” When you look at today’s headlines about Christians in the news and the rhetoric around Christianity on social media, that’s a sobering thought. 

Hypocrisy might be the greatest stumbling block that gets in the way of people coming to Christ. We see it when news stories about ministry leaders blow up on the internet in an instant. It’s evident when unbelievers unite easily around morals like “peace” and “tolerance” while Christians fight with pointed fingers and weaponized Bible verses over what living those morals looks like. Accounts of historically significant Christians like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield holding hypocritical views of slavery make the news, too. 

We’re all prone to hypocrisy, like it or not. As we seek to live genuine, humble lives that actually reflect Christ to unbelievers, we’ll do well to be mindful of where hypocrisy particularly tempts us.

Here are three kinds of hypocrisy we’re especially prone to, and some book recommendations to help you grapple with temptation and grow as a witness to the only One who was never once a hypocrite. 

The Temptation to Focus More on Presentation Than Character

It’s much easier to “come across” as faithful, kind, and honest than it is to actually be any of those things consistently. This is all the more true for those in positions of spiritual leadership. With so many eyes on you, it can be especially hard to remember that your goal is to hear God himself say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Yet, as Rico Tice demonstrates in Faithful Leaders, that is what true success means. This book focuses on character over strategy or presentation.

Book recommendation: Faithful Leaders and the Things That Matter Most by Rico Tice.

The Temptation to Be a Witness for Alternative Gospels

If you were to examine what you speak, post, and share about most, what message would prevail? For many of us, the message would be less of a witness for Christ and much more a testimony to the hope we find in political opinions, medicine, media, or even happiness at home with our families. It’s not hard to find alternative gospels these days, and sadly it’s also not hard to find it trendy to proclaim these alternatives in the church.

“We are being offered a rival gospel,” Stephen McAlpine says in Being the Bad Guys, “a narrative that seeks first to expose the Christian gospel as bad news, and then to replace it with much-needed good news.” In this book, McAlpine offers insight into several alternative gospels out there and explores how to share the good news to people accustomed to seeing Christians as hypocrites. For help applying the book to your specific ministry context, the author is offering a free call to anyone who purchases more than 20 copies. 

Book recommendation: Being the Bad Guys by Stephen McAlpine.

The Temptation to Neglect Our Own Relationship With God

When you’re concerned about hypocrisy, you may first focus on the outward: questioning how you treat others and how they perceive you. But hypocrisy doesn’t require an audience. It begins with believing one thing and acting otherwise, and that easily happens when we neglect our private relationship with God while being concerned about our witness. 

Be encouraged by others who have shared about Christ faithfully in the past while clinging to him personally. An Ocean of Grace by Tim Chester is a unique and powerful devotional that demonstrates how great Christians of old have clung to Christ. It features a collection of writings from figures such as Charles Spurgeon and Augustine. It will lift your eyes and heart to Christ.

Book recommendation: An Ocean of Grace by Tim Chester.