“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside are full of greed and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25).

Practically every person who has left the church can point to a hypocrite as the reason. The elders were wanting, the preacher was unfriendly, a spiritual leader turned out to have a moral failure.

At times it makes one wonder if this is not a little too convenient. After all, the Bible is pretty clear that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”  (Romans 3:23).

Ever since events in the Garden of Eden, humans have sinned. That means the likelihood of finding someone in the church who has sinned as surprising as finding water in the ocean. All have sinned, even Christians.

If you want to leave the church because someone has sinned, well, that’s a little like saying, “I’m leaving the beach if I see sand on the shore.” If you see someone who is not doing the right thing, however, does that free you from your responsibilities? Two wrongs do not make a right. There is not a great deal of difference between his hypocrisy and your easy disloyalty.

To be clear, Christians should be conscious of the effects of their words and attitudes on others. The world (and our children, weak Christians, struggling brethren) are watching.

But I am bemused at the casual manner in which we apply the hypocrite label on others. Do you really know his heart? His struggles? One sure way to know you’re a hypocrite is when you don’t think you are one.

Remember, if a hypocrite comes between you and God … he must be closer to God than you are.

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