Day 24

Jesus Teaches Against Hypocrisy

from the The Life of Jesus reading plan

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

BY Seana Scott

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.

Post Comments (50)

50 thoughts on "Jesus Teaches Against Hypocrisy"

  1. 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..❤

  2. 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!

  3. 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 ❤️

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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

  7. Jeanie Mclellan says:


  8. 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.

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