Summary: Hypocrisy is dangerous. Motives matter.
Any atheists with us this morning? You’d be surprised. We might all say that we are believers, but really the proof is in the pudding; and in this case the pudding is not what we say, but what we do; how we live.
In my 40 years of attempting to be an effective witness for Jesus, I’ve heard hundreds of times a phrase something like this: “CHRISTIANS ARE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES!” “PEOPLE WHO GO TO CHURCH ARE A BUNCH OF HYPOCRITES.” And of course you see this opinion over and over again on tv and in movies.
That’s a hard statement to overcome, because, unfortunately, they’re right. People in our lives judge our message by our lives; they even judge our Jesus by the influence He has or hasn’t had on our lives.
Years ago, someone said, ''THE GREATEST SINGLE CAUSE OF ATHEISM IN THE WORLD TODAY IS CHRISTIANS WHO ACKNOWLEDGE JESUS WITH THEIR LIPS THEN WALK OUT THE DOOR AND DENY HIM BY THEIR LIFESTYLE. THAT IS WHAT AN UNBELIEVING WORLD SIMPLY FIND UNBELIEVABLE.” BRENNAN MANNING That is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.
Turn with me to Matthew 6:1 This morning we begin a new series of messages based on the last 2 chapters of the greatest sermon every preached: the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon Jesus lays out the keys to kingdom living; He reveals the secrets to living life to the max. And as He draws to the close of His sermon, He stresses the importance of building a life on a strong foundation.
If a structure is not built on a sure foundation, then the movement on the soil, or powerful winds can destroy the structure.
Does that look like a safe place to live? No.
Listen, as we go through this series this summer, the question to be asked and answered, is, “HOW DO I BUILD MY LIFE ON A FOUNDATION THAT WILL STAND THE STRESSES AND PRESSURES OF LIFE?”
And in the words of our Lord in chapters 6 & 7 of Matthew we will find those answers. Let’s read MATTHEW 6:1 TOGETHER (ON SCREEN)
Jesus says a quality foundation includes genuineness. GENUINENESS: PURITY OF MOTIVE. It answers the question: WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Notice the phrase: practice your righteousness. What does that mean? Remember we talked about righteousness this Spring. Jesus said in Matthew 5:20, “UNLESS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS SURPASSES THAT OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES, YOU WILL NEVER ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.” MATTHEW 5:20 HCSB
What a statement for Jesus to make. The scribes and Pharisees knew the Scripture inside and out. But Jesus said they weren’t going to heaven. So righteousness means something different than just knowledge. It must have to do not with the head, but with the heart. RIGHTEOUSNESS: RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. The Pharisees seemed to have it all together with God on the outside but on the inside, they weren’t the same.
Jesus says when it comes to practicing righteousness, there is a right and a wrong way. And it boils down to motive.
1. JESUS DEFINES HYPOCRISY “IN FRONT OF PEOPLE” (on screen)
A technical definition of hypocrisy is….HYPOCRISY: A PRETENSE OF HAVING VIRTUOUS CHARACTER, MORAL OR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS THAT ONE DOES NOT REALLY POSSESS.
The Greek word is upocrites: an actor under an assumed character. Many of the ancient Greek plays the actors would wear a mask to identify them as a certain character. (need a mask). They were pretending to be someone they in fact were not.
How does this hypocrisy show up in our lives? Well, there are a million ways, aren’t there?
When we say we are Christ-followers but our language is crude and vulgar, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but we aren’t in church worshipping with the congregation of God, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but we treat our wives or family members with harshness, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but we spend more time reading our novels than reading the Word of God, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we’re Christ-followers but gossip about people, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but don’t trust Him enough to give 10% back to Him, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but never tell others about Him, that’s hypocrisy.
When we say we are Christ-followers but our hearts are filled with lust and we act out on that by what we view on the tv or computer, that’s hypocrisy.
2. JESUS WARNS US OF HYPOCRISY “BE CAREFUL” (on screen)
Why does He warn us about hypocrisy?
A. IT’S DANGEROUS. Jesus says hypocrisy is dangerous. The word used here for CAREFUL (GK, PROSECHO): BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT It was used as a term to describe the careful attention needed to bring a ship to land or to dock it safely.