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As The Hypocrites

Posted by on February 16th, 2011 with 0 Comments


Matthew 6:1 – 8 and 16 – 18

There is a story told of an eastern ascetic holy man who covered himself with ashes as a sign of humility and regularly sat on a prominent street corner of his city.  When tourists asked to take his picture, the mystic would rearrange his ashes to give the best image of destitution and humility.  A great deal of religion amounts to nothing more than rearranging religious “ashes” to impress the world with one’s supposed humility and devotion.
A definition of a hypocrite may go more like this, “a hypocrite deliberately uses religion to cover up his sins and promote his own gains,” Wiersbe.
Hypocrisy brings forth good works in an evil way.

I.    Methods – “When” – we are to do these things.
A.    Alms-giving – John 13:29 – Jesus and the Apostles
B.    Praying – “Prayer is the supreme instance of the hidden characteristic of the Christian life.  It is the antithesis of self-display.  When men pray, they have ceased to know themselves, and know only God whom they call upon.  Prayer does not aim at any direct effect on the world; it is addressed to God alone, and is therefore the perfect example of undemonstrative action.
C.    Fasting
1.    In the Old Testament, Moses, Samson, Samuel, Hannah, David, Elijah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel fasted.
2.    In the New Testament, Anna, John the Baptist and his disciples, Jesus, and Paul fasted.

II.    Manner – “As the hypocrites” – we are to do these things differently.
A.    They sounded a trumpet, stood in the street corner, went around with a sad look on their face.
B.    The word hypocrite means an actor who wore a mask.  A hypocrite is anyone who treats the world as a stage on which he plays a part.
C.    As the hypocrites who do it for “the glory of men,” to be “seen of men,” to “appear unto men.”
1.    Seen of men is literally the word for theatre.
2.    Appear unto men means they fasted on the 2nd and 5th days of the week.  They would wear old clothes, not comb their hair, and cover themselves with dirt and ashes.  These two days were the major market days when the most people would be in town.
D.    Have their reward means paid in full with a receipt.

III.    Motives – there are three possibilities.  (1) We are seeking the praise of men; (2) we preserve our anonymity, but we are congratulating ourselves; (3) we are desirous of the approval of our heavenly Father.
A.    Secrecy
1.    Let not the left know what the right is doing.  There is a story about the Charles Spurgeon and his wife.  They always sold their eggs.  Others thought they should give them away.  The money supported two widows, but they did not tell anyone.
2.    When Jesus told people to pray in secret, He did not mean praying in public was wrong.  They desired to be heard of others.  “There were a group of delegates at a Christian conference who stopped at a restaurant for lunch.  It was nearly filled, but they all found a place at different tables.  Just before eating one of the members announced in a loud voice, “Let’s pray.”  Chairs shifted and heads turned, a long-winded blessing that did more to cool the food than warm the heart followed.  Finally, amid snickers and grumbling came the welcome “amen.””  For the other side, there is this story. “A teacher at a university had lunch with his family at the school cafeteria.  The dining hall was crowded.  As they began to eat, the little 3-year-old cried out, “Daddy, we forgot to pray.”  She began, “Dear Jesus, thank You for our good food and all these nice people.  Amen.”  From nearby tables came quiet “amens” as professors and students were seen to wipe away a tear.”  (Taken from Our Daily Bread.)  “Praying just to catch the ear of man is not likely to reach the ear of God.”
B.    Reward
The purpose of fasting is not to advertise ourselves but to discipline ourselves, not to gain a reputation for ourselves but to express our humility before God and our concern for others in need.

•    Be real!  God sees the real meaning of our lives.
•    The Pharisees’ hypocrisy and attitude drove away the publicans and sinners who were attracted to Jesus.
•    Christian piety is secret, motivated by humility, and rewarded by God.

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