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The word, ‘hypocrite’ literally means to be an actor.  An actor is someone that pretends to be someone or something that he is not.  Let’s look at a couple of times when the word hypocrite is being used in the scriptures.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 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.”  In this portion, we see that the hypocrite was acting like his life was perfect.  He is trying to remove a tiny splinter from his brother’s eye without acknowledging that he had an ever bigger problem; he had a beam in his own eye.  In this respect, we think of a hypocrite as someone who acts like his life is in order, while in fact, it is not at all.  The hypocrite will criticize others for the small imperfections in their lives, while their own lives are in terrible condition.

Another type of hypocrite is one that wants to appear to be pious, but in fact, is just acting to be seen and honored by other people.  Matthew 6:5-6, “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. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”  Here is a person that likes to pray when others can hear him.  Probably impressed with his own eloquence, this person is not really talking to the Lord; he is only talking to try to impress those around him.  The Lord strongly warns us that we should not be that type of person.  The Lord also warns against the hypocrite who would fast just to be noticed by others as we read in Matthew 6:16, “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.”

The Lord does not want us to practice deception in any form or for any circumstance.  In Romans 12:17 the Lord tells us to, “…Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”  We are told in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”