Hypocrisy is derived from the Greek word hypokrisis, which meant playing a part on the stage, or putting on a mask to misrepresent reality. In the ancient Greek theater, actors were known as hypocrites, without any negative connotation. In the real world however, being a hypocrite, pretending to be something while actually being something else, was and is definitely viewed as wrong. In matters of religion, it's downright evil.
Jesus' Warning To The Hypocrites
Jesus Christ did not mince words when it came to religious hypocrisy. That, more than anything else, is what got Him killed. His death was a staged assassination by a few religious hypocrites who The Lord was very effectively exposing to the people under their authority.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5 RSV)
"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:1-6 RSV)
"Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat." He answered them, "And why do you transgress the Commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.' But you say, 'If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, he need not honor his father.' So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'" (Matthew 15:1-9 RSV)
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