Small Group Questions

What Would Jesus Undo? Hypocrisy.

Introduction:

Years ago a movement to challenge the thinking and actions of the world started with a single question, “What would Jesus do?” Over the years there have been numerous modifications to this question. As we follow in His footsteps again today we are asking another question, “What would Jesus undo?” In this series, we go beyond the simple slogans of what it means to follow Christ and open yourself up to discover what Jesus wants to undo so that you can live a life of authentic faith. On Mother’s Day we look at the subject of hypocrisy. 

Bottom Line: Jesus has zero tolerance for hypocrisy; and unlimited grace for the honest.

Something To Talk About:

Jesus would undo hypocrisy. Now I want to ease into this subject because hypocrisy’s no fun to talk about. It’s not easy to see in our own lives. It’s very easy to see in other people’s lives. But we need to spend a few moments talking about what hypocrisy is and what it is not: 

  1. Hypocrisy is not the disparity between what we do and what we wish we did: 1 John 1:8-9 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.“ This passage clearly says that no one is without sin but, it does not brand all as hypocrites. The word hypocrite comes from a Greek word meaning “play actor.” The word denotes one who either (1) pretends to be something he isn’t, or (2) pretends to believe something he does not really believe. The fact that a person sins, does not prove him to be a hypocrite. Followers of Jesus sin and make mistakes…mistakes in judgment, mistakes in ignorance and understanding.  We will all wish we had not done that. We wish we could eliminate bad thoughts, or strengthen our will to keep from doing things we don’t want to do. But that is sin not hypocrisy. These things are not said to excuse sin. Sin is still sin, and it must be confessed and forsaken. But because we sin or err does not makes us a hypocrite. If we sin, we must acknowledge our sins. And God is faithful and just to forgive our sins. The blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse us from all sin and unrighteousness. So, if we do something contrary to what we say we believe, but we recognize, accept responsibility for and correct our action in that regard, we merely act hypocritically.  It does not make us a hypocrite.
  2. Hypocrisy is the gap between what we show and who we are:  It’s the difference between what we say and how we live. It’s the difference between our public persona and our private character. What would Jesus undo? He would undo the show when the real life isn’t consistent with what we show. It is the ones that claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. Hypocrisy is the failure to practice what you preach. This is exactly what so arouses God’s anger in these Old Testament passages. The people want the blessings of God and the approval of men, but without actually turning their hearts to God and submitting their lives to his rule. The people want to follow the law’s prescriptions for worship, but only out of custom and superstition, and only to look good in the eyes of others. They do not want to change their lives, their habits, their affections to conform to God’s will. The hypocrite is the person living a double life, fooling their friends because he or she goes to church, who knows the Bible but chooses not to follow its teachings.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe how you feel or what you think about when you hear the word “hypocrisy.”
  2. What is a hypocrite? Give some examples of a hypocrite from life. How do you feel about someone when you realize that they are a hypocrite?
  3. Who are some of the least hypocritical people you know? What stands out about them?
  4. What is the difference between a struggling but honest believer and a hypocrite who refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing?
  5. How do we tend to show ourselves as someone that we are not? In what area of your life do you struggle to show your honest self?
  6. Hypocrisy within the church isn’t a new fad, long before our time Jesus preached on the exact subject. Read Matthew 23:13-29.  In what forms do you see this kind of hypocrisy among Christians? 
  7. What can we do this week to deal with any hypocrisy in our lives?

Take one thing home with you:

Most people understand what a hypocrite is. They are people who say one thing in public, but do the opposite in private. Jesus had numerous encounters with religious hypocrites in His day, and there is no shortage of hypocrites today either.

There is one hypocrite in particular who annoys me more than all others. He says a lot of pious stuff that sounds good on the surface, but it is just rhetoric most of the time. He is involved in church, he serves as often as he can. But it makes me want to ask this individual a simple question: “Who do you serve? Who do you love?” He has some pretty good ideas and the best of intentions, but if all you ever do is talk abut them, they aren’t worth much.

I don’t spend a lot of time with this individual because it is too upsetting. You can’t help but wonder why he doesn’t look into his life and close the gap between wanting to do something and actually doing it. All he ever does is talk about loving and serving others, but never actually does it. I sure hope this person can change. I really hope hypocrites can change. Otherwise, there is no hope for me. For I am that hypocrite.