You’re probably a hypocrite like me, but here’s how to know for sure.


Don’t trust wildlife documentaries.

“In 1999, a nature documentary called Wolves came out in IMAX theaters. The film was designed to combat the misinformation campaigns of the ranching and hunting lobbies, which portrayed wolves as vicious killers. The filmmakers wanted to show a wolf pack interacting in complex, subtle ways. But filming the intimate lives of wild wolves is nearly impossible because they don’t tolerate the presence of people. So the show’s producers went to a game farm, ‘rented’ wolves who were more used to being around humans, and constructed an artificial den with cameras inside. And in the movie there are these amazing close-up shots of puppies cozying up against their mother’s belly.”

This is an excerpt of a podcast I listen to called “99% Invisible.” Do yourself a favor and subscribe to that podcast. Seriously, it’s amazing. They talk about the process behind things that most of us haven’t thought of or are unaware of. The big idea in this episode is that the nature documentaries we love, such as Planet Earth I & II, are usually edited, sometimes even staged (like “Wolves”), and almost always feature entirely fake sounds. A person known as a “foley artist” creates  the animal sounds we hear using everything from a pair of gloves, to frozen custard, to his hands and mouth. And this news, for some reason, is strangely disappointing. But why? We know that other types of film are edited and changed for the purpose of enhancing the experience. Why does it bother us to know that wild life documentaries are not quite what they seem?

What is a hypocrite?

The word hypocrite is actually not a bad word. It simply describes a profession. “Hypocrite” is the Greek word for actor or actress. Acting isn’t a bad thing unless you are trying to convince people that you are not acting. That’s why we might feel a little betrayed by this information about wild life documentaries. If we expected acting, we’d be just fine. But because we are convinced that everything we are watching is real, we are disappointed. (But seriously, as far as foley artists are concerned, they’re pretty amazing. You have to listen to this podcast).

Are you a hypocrite?

So are you an actor? Not as a performing artist on a stage, but as a Christian, a parent, a spouse, a worker, or a friend? Are you convincing others that you have integrity, keep your word, are a good dad or mom, or love Jesus, but it’s really just an act? This made Jesus angrier than anything else.

Matthew 23:25-26 – “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

Symptoms of Hypocrisy.

Here are three things you should look out for that are usually indications that you might be hypocritical.

  1. Judgmentalism

Judging others is often a symptom of hypocrisy. When we look down on others for what they are doing (or in extreme cases like mine, what we merely assume they are doing), there is almost always a blind spot for our own shortcomings. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye” (Matt. 7:3)?

  1. Self-Righteousness

Thinking of yourself as an excellent Christian is a scary place to be and is often either an indication of hypocrisy, or the first step towards it. Contrast self-righteousness with what C. S. Lewis described in “The Screwtape Letters” and you see two very different forms of Christianity.

A humble Christian no longer makes “confident resolutions which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue… not even the expectation of an endowment of ‘grace’ for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly temptation.”

  1. Policing

The most surefire way of finding hypocrisy in your life is if you find yourself being the “holiness police.” I am not talking about godly confrontation. I am talking about always being the one that suspects “unrighteousness” in someone else and calls everyone out on every little misstep or shortcoming. And in this case I am not sure which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Thinking over my own life, it seems like “policing” is not usually the symptom of hypocrisy for me, but rather the sovereign outcome. It is usually that I have become self-righteous and that God, in His grace, humbles me by allowing me to stumble in the exact same area that I have been “policing” others.

Are you a hypocrite? Do you pretend to be something, or tell others to be something, that you are really not? The good news is, Jesus is the Savior of hypocrites. And it is never too late to repent.


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