I do not have the national polling data to support this, but I would bet heavily that the one obstacle keeping most non-believers from being open to a relationship with Jesus is the hypocrisy of those calling themselves Christians. Even more critical is the hypocrisy of Christians that hold leadership positions. Fortunately, Jesus spoke many times about hypocrisy, giving us clear instructions on how to avoid these obnoxious behaviors associated with it.
Jesus On Hypocrisy
Some of Jesus’ favorite targets on the topic of hypocrisy were the religious leaders at that time. Some of His strongest language came when He was addressing them. It clearly made Jesus angry to see how they were leading His children astray. Unfortunately, I believe the same would be true if Jesus were to speak to us today.
But before you start looking at our current religious leaders and imagining what Jesus would say to them, let’s make sure we include ourselves in this group. If you claim to be a Christian and you hold a leadership position of any sort, He would also be talking to you!
As I said earlier, it is fortunate that we can take Jesus’ words to the religious leaders at that time and apply them today. In fact, in one passage we will review today, there are 4 practices we can avoid that will significantly reduce our hypocrisy as Christian leaders. You can read the full passage here: Matthew 23:1-10.
Practice #1 – Word And Actions Don’t Match
The first practice Jesus mentions is in verse 3. Here He says that the religious leaders do not practice what they preach. Have you heard that before? Maybe you have even told someone, “Do as I say, not as I do.” While there may be situations where that line is appropriate, the truth is that this mindset looks like hypocrisy to everyone else.
As Christians in business, we cannot afford to say one thing and do another. Not only does it erode our credibility with our team, but it also pushes non-believers away from Jesus. When we claim a relationship with Jesus without corresponding actions that confirm that relationship, then we are guilty of the hypocrisy that made Jesus so angry.
Action Step #1 – Make sure your words and actions match – walk your talk!
Practice #2 – Not Willing To Do Or Help
The next practice of hypocrisy that Jesus addresses is in verse 4. He accuses the religious leaders of giving “heavy, cumbersome” work to the people while refusing to join in and help. Have you ever worked for someone like that? Did you see that as hypocrisy?
I am not suggesting that you begin doing the entry level work in your organization. In fact, I have written before how that can be counter-productive. What I am saying is that we should be willing to do it on occasion AND we should make sure our team has whatever resources they need in order to do their work.
I also believe Jesus is directing us to do our share of the work in the business. Sure, our work will be different than that of others, but it is work just the same. We cannot afford to push all the heavy loads to someone else and then kick back and relax, unwilling to “lift a finger” to help.
Action Step #2 – Do your part; make sure they have help with their part.
Practice #3 – Everything Done Is For Show
The next practice of hypocrisy that we need to avoid is in verse 6. Here, Jesus calls out the religious leaders for doing everything they do to be seen by the people. He points out that their actions have no substance, but are only intended to draw attention to themselves. Can you see this kind of behavior in the business world?
If we are to be disciples of Jesus in the marketplace, then we must avoid this behavior at all costs. We must make sure our work, our efforts, have substance. We need to stop worrying about drawing attention and begin working as if Jesus were our only boss (Colossians 3:23). If we will focus our efforts there, then we will avoid this practice of hypocrisy.
Action Step #3 – Work as if working directly for Jesus, not for show.
Practice #4 – Desire Is For Titles, Admiration
The final verses we will look at are verses 6-7. Jesus scolds the religious leaders for their love of titles and admiration. Rather than seeking to honor God, these leaders did everything in their power to gain the honor for themselves. I know you have seen this same type of behavior in the workplace.
Have you behaved this way? It is an easy trap to fall into, but it is one we must work hard to avoid. God is the one that is to get the credit for all we do. Our work should be done in such a way as to point others to Him, not to ourselves. He alone deserves it!
Action Step #4 – Work to point others to Jesus.
Pray For Direction
While there are certainly more ways to lead with hypocrisy in the business world, I believe avoiding these four practices will give you a great start. Take the time to pray through each and ask God to prick your heart where there needs to be change. You may even be bold enough to ask for accountability from your peers in these areas!
Looking in the mirror, which of these behaviors do you see?
Knowing how destructive they can be, are you prepared to change them?
How do you ensure you never fall into the habit of these behaviors?
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