By Luther Blackmon

Etymologically the word “hypocrite” means an actor; one who pretends to be something which he is not. Hypocrites come in varied forms; their hypocrisy finds expression in different ways, but basically they are all the same under the skin: dishonest and unreliable.

Not the least among the hypocrites is the fellow that is all sweetness and generosity when he is out with the “gang”; he has the longest arm in the crowd when it comes time to reach for the beer check; he is the regular fellow. But he squeals like a pig stuck in a gate when his spouse asks for an extra dollar above the dole he gives her to buy the groceries, and wants to know how she manages to get rid of so much money. The female counterpart of this nice fellow is the little lady who calls her husband all sorts of endearing names in company, and gives the impression that life with him is a preview of paradise, but who makes Socrates’ wife Zanthippe look like Whistler’s mother with her haggling and nagging when there is nobody home but the family.

Then there is the hypocrite who is not a member of the church because there are hypocrites in the church. It does not take a close observer to see that his excuse is as phony as a four-dollar bill. He goes to the football game where there are gamblers, whoremongers, liars, murderers, and reprobates a plenty. He will stand in line and be shoved, insulted, and slobbered on by drunks, and smile it all off as a part of the game. But if someone who goes to church has failed to pay a debt somewhere that he knows about, his sensitive soul is so shocked by such an atrocity that he simply cannot bring himself to worship God in the company of such persons. We have no disposition to defend those who refuse to honor their obligation, but we also know that you cannot prevent some counterfeits from getting into the church. They are found in every strata of society. And when we go to worship we should go for the purpose of worshiping God, not to analyze the lives and judge the hearts- of the worshipers. A person who lets a hypocrite keep him out of the church stands to spend eternity with that hypocrite. Because salvation is in Christ, and to be in Christ is to be in the church, if the hypocrite does not change, we will spend eternity in torment. The one who lets the hypocrite keep him from obeying the gospel will be there with him (2 Thess. 1:7-9).

Another one whose name belongs in this list of notables is the preacher who denounces dancing, petting, divorce and remarriage, while carrying on a clandestine affair with the wife of another man. This one belongs in the hypocrites hall of fame. Along side of him ought to hang the portrait of the preacher who declares his soundness to the remotest bounds, and loves the truth above all other considerations, who in debate seeks always for truth and never for personal victory, who would have his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth rather than have it said that he had ever failed to stand for the truth on any matter affecting the kingdom of God; but who when issues arise and lines are drawn which leave him on the side with those “everywhere spoken against,” he changes his course completely or maintains a sphinx-like silence until he is forced to speak, and then evades and double-talks like a politician making a speech on integration.

And last but not least, we would mention the one who comes to worship only now and then when he (or she) has a pang of conscience about letting the children grow up without the influence of Christianity in their lives. But, who, if encouraged to come more often, will give out a line of excuses that ought to get him elected president of the Ananias club, but which excuses never keep him from the little league games and other activities. I am still looking for that fellow who will just walk up to the lick-log and say, “I don’t attend worship because I have no interest m spiritual things. The church means nothing to me. If there was ever a flame of love for the Lord and His church in my heart, it has gone out, or remains only a dying ember.” If one could ever bring himself to face this fact, he could begin to be faithful. Nobody wants to go to Hell.

Truth Magazine XXI: 3, pp. 45-46
January 20, 1977