Jesus Teaches Against Hypocrisy

Open Your Bible

Matthew 23:1-39, Mark 12:38-44

I stood in the wooden church pew, too short to see the stage, and watched my mom from the side, singing loudly, “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee, how great Thou art…”  We attended church every Sunday. The pastor mesmerized my mom and dad with his inspirational preaching, which often included the call to “sow a financial seed.” 

So, Mom and Dad donated generously toward the church and a global ministry to feed children overseas, even while chipping away at credit card debt. Then one Sunday, the pastor was gone. Grown-ups whispered. We stopped going to church. Years later I learned the elders fired the pastor due to embezzling the tithes and offerings. 

I imagine the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Matthew 23 operated similary. Jesus says of them: “Hypocrites!” “Blind guides!” (vv.23,24).

Jesus revealed what was hidden behind their religious robes, long prayer garments, and honored positions: they were nothing they claimed to be; rather, they were “like whitewashed tombs” (v.27) and cups full of sin (v.25). They taught the law, but they followed the letter of the law not the spirit—and they cared more about the gold in the temple treasury than the righteous work of the temple itself (vv.16–22). 

It’s easy to shake our heads in disgust at this pastor or the Pharisees of the world, but if I’m honest, I think we all have hypocritical tendencies. There are a myriad of ways we exalt ourselves in our mental comparison games. Maybe this is why Jesus emphasized that the greatest among us will be a servant (v.11) and warned that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (v.12). We desire greatness, but greatness in the kingdom means humility in humanity. 

This means we don’t use position and power to exalt ourselves. Even if we’re never caught, one day all things will be laid bare—and we will all give an account. And then, the humble will be exalted.

Let’s not follow the footsteps of hypocrisy. Let’s be careful to make sure the greatness we pursue is the greatness of servitude.

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53 thoughts on "Jesus Teaches Against Hypocrisy"

  1. Rommy Schuurmans says:

    Lord help me to see where I’m exalting myself and make me humble. Help me see where I can serve others and avoid serving to make myself look better. Govern my heart and help me keep it in the right place.

  2. Ada McCloud says:

    Wowza. I may need to read this day again. Where in my life am I being hypocritical?

  3. Brinaya Bailey says:


  4. Kyle Hopkins says:


  5. Kristin Duffey says:

    Kenya Rafferty I’m a week behind on the devotions, but your comment really stuck out to me. I have found myself prideful when I compare myself to other people saying, I’m not as bad as them. I continue to pray about this, but I never thought about being prideful when it came to my husband. I have found myself have bitter feelings toward my husband at times because I feel like I do so much, and I get frustrated with him easily. I feel like I need to not let my pride get in the way and realize he does so much for me and the kids and by community I sting instead of holding grudges and holding myself and what I do higher than him I could be serving him and God by helping our relationship and helping our communication.

  6. Terri Baldwin says:

    Be good on the inside and have a pure heart, love one another, have faith, and be kind. Don’t be a hypocrite!

  7. Regina Clinton says:

    God, help me to humble myself

  8. Lori Lackey says:

    Todays reading has sparked my interest in understanding the connection between vulnerability and humility. Earlier this morning, I read that teens feel they have friends, and an adult that cares for them, but most also feel very lonely. The students in the study felt they could not be themselves. Being vulnerable is a risk because everyone is so judgmental (Mark Brackett, 2023). Mathew 23:15 – woe to you,scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make one convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a child of hell as you are. All such familiar reading but so much depth to ponder.

  9. Susan Lincks says:

    I don’t want to be a hypocrite. That feeling of shame is awful.

  10. Claire B says:


  11. Tami C says:

    Thank you Mandi!

  12. Kenya Rafferty says:

    I think one of the biggest ways I exalt myself is when I am upset. Especially with my husband. I start playing the poor pitiful me card instead of just asking for what I need or being honest. Even though he might really be frustrating or doing something different than I would, when I get upset, I am only focusing on myself and my attention is drawn away from how I could best be serving him in the moment – most likely by being honest.

  13. Gwineth52 says:

    Hello Shes…Let’s just say my middle initial “P” could stand for Pride. Persistent. Painful. Not Pretty. Not Pleasing. Puffed up by self-prescribed “good works”. And yet. My Lord, You already KNOW this much & more about me, before my ever admitting & asking Your help. And I KNOW Your love for me has not & will not waver, whatever soul-sickness I confess. You are God above all that ails the human heart. Amen & Amen

  14. Donna Wolcott says:

    Thank you Kelly for asking and to all those who prayed for me. Still no answers from the pulmonologist and probably more tests. My mind always thinks the worst. So I wait and see what’s next. Others lifted in my prayers today spoken and unspoken. Thank you all you she’s!

  15. Mercy says:

    After reading the harsh rebuke the Lord unapologetically gave to the Pharisees, we need to be aware that things must take a turn. Sitting on a fence won’t be an option anymore. Judgment starts in the house of God and this message is for the church, not the unbelievers. We need to know the real Jesus and live him out. The real Jesus, not the one who is okay with anything and everything that destroys us, all in the name of what we misunderstood as Love. God always always loves, but His love abides in Truth that keeps us safe. Looking at the passages today, it was so disheartening to see much resemblance taking place, how the church is being killed/crucified/ scourged/ persecuted from within (Matthew 23:34) by the chiefs, and what’s more scary….making the new converts twofold more the child of hell (Matthew 23:15)- what a dark side of church the Lord revealed. May we intercede and pray even more for the church to overcome the wolves in sheep clothing. The Lord warned us of the yeast of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:12) of spiritual pride, self-righteousness, hypocrisy that can spread and spoil the WHOLE batch. May we take time to examine the red flags to discern signs of the yeast, and come out (2 Corinthians 6:17). There must be a separation between the children of God and the children of hell. What agreement can exist between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. Like a prophet once said, I never sat with the band of revelers, nor did I celebrate with them. Because Your hand was on me, I sat alone, for You have filled me with indignation (Jeremiah 15:17).

    @Laura: speaking truth hurts since truth is the double edged sword that cuts open people’s hearts and any hidden wrongful intentions. Cuts like surgeries. You did the right thing speaking truth to your daughter. For your question about the wedding robes, my KJV study notes said that these garments at weddings are provided by the host for the guests to put on. It’s a tradition and guests are normally offered these when coming into the feast (like a coat check service). I think it was a really cool tradition, probably very costly for the host. The guest that was without the robe had clearly refused the provision of the host (the king) in this case. And this robe symbolizes the robe of righteousness provided for all whom He calls/invites.
    @Searching: thank you!
    @Michelle P: you were missed. Shark week is challenging, emotions can be all over the place. Hope you will feel better soon sister.
    @Dorothy: praying for potential job change, may all be well.
    @Tami C: praying for your daughter’s speedy healing.
    @Julie A: for provision of leadership for the youth club. May God bless you with more wisdom and courage as you lead the new group.

    Be blessed dear sisters.

  16. Kimberly Z says:

    I am sure I often more often than do hypocritical things vs. trying to serve others or just simply serve the Lord. I recently have felt called to volunteer but have yet made the jump to go do it. This was a great reminder. @Sarah D. I love a good God moment! @Rebecca W. Love your comment on mental comparisons. I do this ALL the time! Praying for all your request today ladies ❤️

  17. LaShandra Fluno says:

    Praying for a humble heart.

  18. Kim Simons says:

    “Greatness in the Kingdom means humility in humanity” chewing on this…

  19. Dorothy says:

    Well I have an answer to my prayers about whether to leave what I’m doing now, I received a phone call last evening from a friend of my sister’s (whom I’ve become friends with) and she offered me a job. It’ll be less money but it will also be less stress on my body and me. It won’t start right away. She runs some houses for mentally disabled adults and I’ll be working in the evening or night at new one she is going to start. Mainly making meals, giving them their meds and making sure they “don’t get out of hand”. In other words being a mother figure to them. I’ll miss my little girls but it will be so much easier on me.

    Be blessed and know God DOES answer prayers sisters.

  20. Michelle Patire says:

    @Traci G– Jesus is the greatest example of service. I pray you look to Him to learn how. You have gifts. May He highlight the gifts He wants you to employ in serving others. We are made to live and serve one another. I pray the Lord continues to show you the value of serving.

    I’ve been kinda quiet on here. Don’t have much to share, or rather, don’t always feel up to sharing the things God is doing. He is faithful, when we are faithless. I think I’m feeling sensitive bc my time of the month is around the corner. I have been really believing God uses our menstrual cycle as a means to be nearer to Him. Has anyone else noticed He brings a lot to the surface in this time that He wants you to confront? The world says many things about our cycle, but lately I’ve noticed it as a gift from the Lord in drawing near in our emotional and physical weakness.
    All things work together for good….

  21. Lehua K. says:

    Life has been a whirlwind again and I’m still catching up on the readings. Thank you KELLY (NEO) for asking! I started on my own on Monday and it’s been a lot better at work.. I’ve been praying a lot that God will expand my capacity as His strength fills in the (many) gaps in my areas of weakness. That I may be used to bring Him glory in my workplace and that I learn to slow down and prioritize better. My (former) supervisor is still on payroll for the next 2 weeks (he took vacation so he can still be available to help if needed, he’s just not in the office) and he needs to tie up all the loose ends before he leaves. I pray that he does or that I’m able to fill in whatever he doesn’t finish, because I don’t know what some of these are (lol). Leaving it to God and trusting ❤️

    Our Women’s Bible study started meeting up again and we’re in a larger group setting now. It’s been refreshing. We’re reading Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen and learning to take our thoughts captive. Definitely needed ❤️ my cat also went to heaven yesterday, I’m glad I got to see him during the holidays. I pray that my parents’ home will be filled with peace and harmony, now that they are truly empty nesters.. I pray their marriage can be strengthened in Christ.

  22. Rebecca W says:

    I am so guilty of exalting myself in mental comparison games! Forgive me Lord, and help me to see it when I am tempted. Help me to humble myself since God knows all truth about me anyway, even when I may not recognize my sins for what they truly are. Create in me a clean heart Lord!
    Praying for all requests today. ❤️

  23. Dawn Enns says:

    Help me to be humble Jesus❤️

  24. Allison Bentley says:

    As a believer for 20+ years My continued prayer is Lord help me not be a Pharisee- it’s so easy with the “prayer request for so and so who’s cheating” or I’m better than so and so because I do ______ (I’m sure you can fill in the blank). Help me live my life so that others will wonder who Jesus is instead of confirming all the lies the world has told them about Christianity! Amen sisters! Praying for all your requests today!

  25. Traci Gendron says:

    I need to be so much better at servitude. I tend to want to sit with SRT and other studies and soak up all I can get from God. I told a friend yesterday I sometimes feel like I could be content without anyone and would be happy just sitting with my Bible and God. I crave Him. Yet, I don’t serve. I feel ill equipped. I’m 61. Will all those that remember me in my days of sinful living look at my like a “hypocrite”? Like who is she trying to fool. It’s funny because I don’t generally care too much what others think of me. I’m more concerned with what God thinks of me. I know not everyone is going to like me. But maybe just maybe, I need to change that thinking a bit and learn to serve.

  26. Mama4 K says:

    I pray for protection and guidance for all pastors and leaders that they will not be tempted by the evil one! I pray I may know how to best serve and love them so that they know they are loved by God too! It’s such a hard job to carry the weight of a congregation and trust God for all the problems they get to hear and support. I also pray for their wife’s and families. God please help us to serve one another and not just share out burdens and frustrations, let us truly care for each other and forgive each other as you have been forgiven, that we may walk more freely in your mercy Lord and share that with others. Let us understand how much we need you!!

  27. Mari V says:

    Having a servants heart, is not always easy. Our selfish desires, and gain gets in the way. I’m speaking FOR MYSELF! Being at a work place where I am one of the oldest and been there the longest it’s quite humbling to be told what to do by someone much younger and has not been there very long. While I can see that some of their actions are selfish, please pray my actions would be Christlike. And I’m being transparent when I say that sometimes that’s a very hard.
    Happy Wednesday sweet sisters!

  28. Mari V says:

    Having a servants heart, is not always easy. If it was, we all be doing it. Our selfish desires, and gain gets in the way. I’m speaking for myself! Being at a work place where I am one of the oldest and been there the longest it’s quite humbling to be told what to do by someone much younger and has not been there very long. While I can see that some of their actions are selfish, please pray my actions would be Christlike. And I’m being transparent when I say that sometimes that’s a very hard.

  29. Laura says:

    On the podcast for this week they talked about how Jesus was not afraid to speak truth, and that the truth was very harsh but it was necessary because the religious people were living a lie that they were presenting as truth. This hits my heart because we have been in a battle of speaking truth to our daughter about the lies she is believing, and sometimes I question whether we are doing the right thing because it has caused her to walk away from our family. But each time I question, the Holy Spirit reminds me that speaking Biblical truth to those who are following lies is loving, especially when it relates to our daughter, who we are commanded as her parents to train up in God’s truth. I’m grateful that Jesus did not stand down from speaking the truth, because we can learn from that truth today, as we examine our own hearts for lies (especially those that are masking our hypocrisy). It also makes me think of the question posed yesterday in the comments: why did no one tell the guest who was not dressed for the wedding that he was not dressed properly? I want to always be on the side of truth, no matter how hard it might be to swim against the tide.

  30. TIna says:

    It is so easy to judge and condemn the next man for what is wrong doing in ours… is it not?

    I have worked at a church for over 16years. I have seen it all. But I think the incident that shocked me most was the young man who had been sponsored, prayed for, provided for, by the church for over 10 years in His growing ministry in Afghanistan. He returned to England and set off to vicar school. Whilst he was at vicar school the church was thrown a bomb that just left us confused. The vicar had been unfaithful to his wife.. he was suspended, and whilst he was in suspension, the young man was choosing where he would go to curate. I met up with him and asked if he would choose us.. his response shocked me to the core..
    “I would not touch that church with a barge pole..”


    I quietly said I’m sorry and walked away..
    What had the congregation done? What had the church done to have such a sentence spoke over it? Such venom, such unkindness in words..
    One man’s mistake and the unsuspecting rest, are held to ransom.
    The hypocrisy of it all! I was saddened that day.

    I know I am no Saint, never really will be..

    BUT GOD..
    I pray Lord God, that the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart will be acceptable to you Lord God, but also the truth on which I stand, act and am!
    Help me, guide me, direct me Lord God to be the best I can be, not one thing on the outside and something else on the inside.. May I be authentic, and true for your glory..


    Still not 100%, but getting there..
    Wishing you all well dear hearts, wrapped in love and prayers always..❤

  31. Sharon, Jersey Girl says:

    “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Matthew 23:3 Father God, may I not be guilty of this sin. Please let my life testimony match my words. May I always be a reflection of Jesus. Amen…It’s so easy to do the “preaching”, but it takes the work and power of and submission to the Holy Spirit in order to live it out. May I depend on His power today and every day!

    @Tami C – praying God’s protective shield around your daughter Chela.
    @Taylor – praying that you don’t have a sinus infection, & if you do – that it clears quickly!
    @Kristen – praying for your friend – that this 2nd biopsy might bring good news, & if not that God will give the grace he needs, and that you might be an encouragement to him.

    Happy Wednesday my SRT sisters, can’t believe we’re half way through this week already!

  32. C. says:

    This was so needed today! I think sometimes we all need this reminder. I know I sure do! So thankful for this bible study. And so thankful for this community ❤️

  33. Sarah D. says:

    Good morning everyone!! Praying for you @Taylor that you feel well! Praying for everyone as well.
    I just wanted to share something from yesterday that I felt like was a God thing. I started going to a small group with my church (it is co-Ed), to have community with others that I feel I’ve lost a bit since I graduated college. The other day I was praying about relationships and for my future husband, and what do we talk about in the small group? Marriage haha. They also had us pray for our future spouses, if that is in God’s plan for us. I just thought, God sure does have a sense of humor and he is intentional. I am praying to trust his timing, because I do desire to get married. I am glad that for the most part, I am doing better mentally since I have been on the medicine. Praying that the Lord would guide me to where he wants me to go, and that he would guide me into a relationship in his timing. But in the meantime, I am praying I enjoy where I am now and do all I can to grow in Christ.

  34. Mandi says:

    Tami, I will pray for Chela today. My daughter, Sarah, also has an autoimmune disease. She is a junior in high school. She was diagnosed when she was 4. It is a hard road at times. I know how stressful it is to have to miss school regularly!

  35. Kristen says:

    AmieeD-R! I just read the Scripture you posted on the Bible app! Amen to those words. I certainly need the Holy Spirit to help me so that my words and thoughts will be pleasing to Him. Then. I had a recommendation on my phone to watch a teaching on YouTube from Ligoneer Ministry by R C Sproul on humility from Luke 14:1-14. I hope to listen later! This goes along with what we are reading today. Pride comes before a fall! Pride and comparison are dangerous. I am guilty of comparison. I always need to see my own sin, depravity, and hypocrisy. It’s actually a blessing to see ourselves rightly. This shows the depths of our need for a Savior and the astonishing act of love by Jesus, to obey the Father and take on the sins of His children. May this get us every time and may our love and praise grow as we marvel at Him. May we all walk in humility and His ways too! Amen.
    The man I mentioned a few weeks ago, needs to get another biopsy. Would you please pray for him? Thank you

  36. Jeanie Mclellan says:


  37. Kasey Deschaine says:

    This teaching was so needed today as a daily reminder to check our motivations! Lord, I pray boldly and confidently that you will humble me when I need it the most! Put in me a desire to serve with my heart and not my interest of being seen! I pray that I will remain faithful even when I have little.

  38. Summer Stevenson says:

    This ❤️

  39. Nancy Singleton says:

    Greatness in the kingdom means humility in humanity.’ Powerful words that need to soak in daily.

  40. Christine F says:


  41. Miranda says:

    Following many recommendations, I popped over to HRT to check out yesterday’s devotional… It was very convicting and really hit home on some of my recent prayers.

    While over there, I noticed that no one leaves comments – that’s kinda sad because I get so much each day from our wonderful She community. The guys don’t know what they’re missing!

    Thanking God for the wisdom and support we share!

  42. Taylor says:

    Another great devotion today! Two questions I’m reflecting on: 1. What are my hypocritical tendencies? and 2. How do I exalt myself?

    I would also recommend reading HRT today! The writer gives some great examples of spiritual poverty that also challenged me to reflect on.

    So thankful Jesus meets us with MORE grace, MORE love. May I live out of this grace and love and not be like the Pharisees.

    Quick prayer request! I think I have a sinus infection so please pray for this to pass quickly. Luckily I don’t have anything going on this weekend so can rest if needed.

  43. Searching says:

    TAMI C – praying for Chela’s health!

  44. Searching says:

    I hadn’t read this chapter in Matthew in a long time. The first 3 things that popped into my mind were 1) Can I get an Amen!, 2) the saying that beauty is only skin deep and 3) something I heard/read many years ago – that much of what we see and criticize in others are things we recognize because we do/say the same things. Lord, please help me to see myself/my motives as they really are, that I would not deceive myself about the truth of me, that I would study Your words and apply them to my life – words, deeds, thoughts.

    TAMI C – happy you have joined this wonderful community of sisters in Christ! And we ALL slip up at times, and are so thankful for His forgiveness and grace.

    MERCY – praying for Ms Carolina

    MOLLY ROHRER – wow! Praises all around for all that God has done and is doing, continuing to pray.

    LAUREL – praying for comfort and peace for Michele, you and others that loved Alex.

    REBECCA W – praying for you and the women in your new Bible study

  45. Aimee D-R says:

    Father let the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. In Jesus name, Amen

  46. Danielle B says:

    To be great in the kingdom means to be humble here. Lord May you dampen my desire for acknowledgment and compliments. May I long to serve others on your behalf in quiet instead of for attention. Make known to me where I’m being a hypocrite.

  47. Tami C says:

    I pray that I practice what I preach. That my inside posture aligns with my outside. I would appreciate prayer for my daughter Chela today (senior in HS). She has an autoimmune disease and she is catching every bug that comes around. She was sick again yesterday for the 4th time this school year. Flu/cold symptoms. Not serious but enough to make her feel bad. She stresses about missing school. Thank you ladies!

  48. Tami C says:

    I pray that I practice what I preach. That my inside posture aligns with my outside. I would appreciate prayer for my daughter Chela today (senior in HS). She has an autoimmune disease and she is catching every bug that comes around. It

  49. Sarah Shipley says:

    This is beautifully said and touched me this morning. Thank you.

  50. lily robillard says:


  51. Kelly (NEO) says:

    “Let’s be careful to make sure the greatness we pursue is the greatness of servitude.”

    MOLLY R – happy to hear of your dad’s change of heart. Continuing to pray for healing and wisdom in next steps.

    JULIE A – praying the Lord send help to the youth ministry this very week

    DONNA WILCOTT – how did your appointment go?

    PAM C – were you able to qualify for help on your medications?

    LEHUA K – are things better for you at work?

  52. Julie A says:

    Thank you for your prayers earlier this week for the decision I had to make about youth ministry. I really appreciate it and found it comforting to know that it wasn’t just down to me to choose. I have decided to leave the youth club and start leading the discipleship group, which will be much more spiritually challenging and rewarding. The youth club now desperately needs a new volunteer to step forward, otherwise they can’t continue. I trust God will provide, and that it’ll all work out in his timing.

  53. Arina says:

    These are harsh words Jesus speaks. He cant take this lightly because it’s about our hearts. He needs to warn, out of love for His Father and the people. The Pharisees mislead themselves and the people they teach. When it comes to others, I see the importance of calling out hypocrisy. May I be willing to also see where in my life I don’t practice what I preach. Where my outside says something else than what’s inside. Where my behaviour as a Christian comes from the wrong motivations. Create in me a clean heart, o Lord!