Why we hate hypocrites and how we can help us (I mean them).

May 15, 2014

Matthew 6:5

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.


Hypocrites. Nobody likes hypocrites and yet no one considers that they might actually be one themselves.

I want to come at hypocrisy from a slightly different angle.

I want to classify hypocrisy as low grade narcissism. Another way of saying it: Garden Variety Image Management Syndrome. What are the symptoms? Constant attention to massaging one’s Facebook profile or endless tweaking of the Twitter bio or incessant attention to the latest friend who unfriended you, keeping a birdseye view on your twitter follower count.

Bringing it closer to home. I just love it when someone refers to me as a man of God, or a spiritual giant, or a true man of prayer, or an awesome golfer or an amazing preacher or an incredible writer, ok I’m getting carried away. If I am honest, I have to admit that I want to be seen by others in a certain way. Whether that be actually true about me or not is another question. And because I want others to see me in a certain way, the chances are, I am not really that way, because if I really were that way I wouldn’t be worried about it.

Low Grade Narcissism manifests itself through an insatiable appetite for the admiration of others. Narcissism counterfeits the love for self that Scripture calls for; as in “Love your neighbor as yourself.” God desires that we love ourselves at the deep core of who we are; who he made us to be. Narcissism, another symptom of pain at the core, trains us to love our self constructed image.

As in the Matryoshka (self righteousness) post a few days back, to the extent we are focused on managing our external appearance, we have a much deeper inside problem. The problem? Insecurity has breached the core identity. When we lack a deep inner confidence at the core of who we are, we naturally move to establish security around the perimeter. This is the essence of low grade narcissism and Image Management syndrome. This, my friends, is where hypocrisy comes from.

Again, let’s not vilify hypocrites. Rather, let’s become attuned to our pain. (I mean their pain.)  ;0)  Here’s the ironic kicker. (Don’t kick me for this though bc/ you may not like what I’m about to say.) The fact that we hate hypocrites is probably the telltale sign that we are one. Haven’t you discovered along the way that what you most despise in others, you fear is true about yourself?

Hypocrisy is another variety of soul cancer. The problem with hypocrisy is the hypocrite is the last one to know they have it. Wesley diagnosis some of the complexity of it with this word:

Purity of intention is equally destroyed by a view to any temporal reward whatever. If we repeat our prayers, if we attend the public worship of God, if we relieve the poor, with a view to gain or interest, it is not a whit more acceptable to God than if it were done with a view to praise. Any temporal view, any motive whatever on this side eternity, any design but that of promoting the glory of God, and the happiness of men for God’s sake, makes every action, however fair it may appear to men, an abomination unto the Lord. p.118

Tomorrow we will deal with the cure and it is really quite simple and comprehensively refreshing.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.


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