Living Like Pharisees And Hypocrites

A dangerous temptation for a preacher and his family is to live like the Pharisees and hypocrites described in Matthew, chapter 23. Hypocrites, in their false pride, feel they must sing better and louder than anyone in the congregation. They want to know more and be better than anyone. Their kids have to be the smartest or the prettiest. Their cars have to be bigger and go faster and their good deeds must be seen of men to be a ‘showcase’ for all. What a pity, “For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” (Job 27:8).

The book of Matthew has much to say about this type of person. “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward” (Mat 6:2). “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Mat 6: 5). “Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward” (Mat 6:16).

A very real temptation is for preachers and their wives to tell others how to live and what is wrong in their lives, while they themselves have many ‘unresolved issues’ in their own family relationships. “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Mat 7:5). They seem to be pillars of the church, yet they may only make a mockery of religion in their private lives. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Mat 15:7-8).

Not all people are blind to this inconsistency. Some are soured on the church because they see insincerity in the leadership. “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Mat 23:13).

They may harp on the subject of giving and expect (or demand) that they be given high salaries unequal to the people who are supporting them. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Mat 23:14-15).

Preachers and their wives often demand that the congregation live by the ‘letter of the law,’ but they themselves will not do as much in their private lives. They may bind heavy burdens on the members and ultimately cause them to lose their souls because they cannot meet expectations and thereby become discouraged.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess” (Mat 23:23-25).

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Mat 23:27-28).

Consider seriously, wives of preachers! Are you really what you appear to be? Are you for real? “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

Beth Johnson

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The King James Version.

Published in The Old Paths Archive