by Carolyn Schmitt

The word “hypocrite” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word “hypokrites”, which means an actor or someone who performs on a stage. Basically it means a person who looks like a very spiritual, virtuous person, but who doesn’t live in truth what they portray in public. In more familiar terms they ”don’t practice what they preach.”  

Although the following scriptures taken from the The Message Bible don’t use “hypocrite”, I felt that the translators gave a good visual description of the word.

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.” Matthew 6:1 MSG

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for fifteen minutes of fame! Do you think God sits in a box seat?”  Matthew 6:5 MSG

He told his next story to some who were complacently pleased with themselves over their moral performance and looked down their noses at the common people: “Two men went up to the Temple to pray, one a Pharisee, the other a tax man. The Pharisee posed and prayed like this: ‘Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, or, heaven forbid, like this tax man. I fast twice a week and tithe on all my income. Luke 18:9-12 MSG

“Meanwhile the tax man, slumped in the shadows, his face in his hands, not daring to look up, said, ‘God, give mercy. Forgive me, a sinner.’” 
Luke 18:13 MSG

Jesus commented, “This tax man, not the other, went home made right with God. If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face, but if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 18:14 MSG 

These verses remind me that God always listens to us when we come to him.

Years ago, as I was driving to church, rehearsing the words I wanted to “contribute” when the worship leaders and sound team met that morning to pray before the service. Feeling good about having something to offer, I “heard” a quiet voice in my head say, “ Child, I heard you! You’ve already prayed it to me”. It was a gentle reminder from God to not perform in public prayer anymore than in private prayer.