Approval Addiction Leads to Hypocrisy



We have all met people who seem to have taken the saying, “do as I say not as I do” as their motto for life.  There’s something about a person pressuring others to deal with weaknesses while ignoring their own faults that makes all of us angry.  The same goes for a fake individual who likes to choose from a vast number of personalities or lifestyles, depending on who they are with, instead of being themselves.  This double standard lifestyle (the Bible calls it hypocrisy) doesn’t just make us angry it’s also a terrible sin in the eyes of God.

Jesus towards the end of his earthly ministry condemned the religious leaders of that day for their hypocrisy. [1]  His anger is focused especially on their lifestyle that only emphasized outer things that could be seen by other people while overlooking more important character issues.  These men who gave their lives to studying the law and serving God in the temple are called “blind” many times in this passage because they lack spiritual discernment.  And today many years later hypocrisy comes when the small things in the eyes of God are viewed as extremely important.

Many people will see the religious leaders using legalism in Matthew 23 by forcing others to only focus on doing the right thing and forget the relationship with God.  While its true that most hypocrites embrace legalism (and the religious leaders in Jesus’ day definitely did) the source of their spiritual blindness goes deeper.  In the beginning of Matthew twenty-three Christ warned the people not to follow the example of their religious leaders who enjoy giving commands, but refuse to obey them.   Since this double standard seems confusing, He then proceeded to explain why they did it.

The Jewish leaders weren’t motivated by love for God or those around them who were in need.  Instead it was the honor and respect received by others they were enamored with.[2]   There was a great amount of authority with their position, which allowed these ministers to be honored and revered by everyone.  It shouldn’t be surprising that this power and the respect of others became an important part of the Rabbi’s life.

These leaders would go out of their way to dress in a way that attracted attention to their position which would then lead to special recognition and honor from others, and that love for being “noticed” created the hypocrisy in their ministry.  Remember that Jesus judged them for overlooking inner qualities such as character, a relationship with God, and accepting Christ as the Messiah.  Instead they choose to tithe from their spice rack, and discussions about the temple sacrifices.  This choice is made because the people give compliments or honor for those outer works of righteousness, while nobody can tell if your heart is pure or not.

Sadly this attention-motivated ministry was a major part of life for the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They had a reputation for praying loudly on street corners so people could hear them, and making sure someone noticed if they were fasting.[3]  Giving in the temple was also one of their favorite activities since their large gifts would attract praise from others.[4]  But in the all of that recognition meant nothing because they didn’t have a personal relationship with God.

Approval addicts like the religious leaders will seek for actions that result in the love or respect of others.  This usually leads to emphasizing outer works such as giving, ministry in the Church Service, involvement in small groups, or helping the needy.  While these are all wonderful things if the motivation comes from a desire for attention God will not be ultimately glorified by it.

Most addicts are destined to become hypocrites because they always choose the road that leads to men’s praise and farther away from a relationship with God.  Over time they will become blind to the sinful actions in their life and in many cases lose the respect of others while not even realizing it.  Approval addiction has the power to help us become someone that everyone loves, but in the ends makes us someone that everyone hates.

Because of Who He is,

John Wilburn

[1] Matthew 23:16-26

[2] Matthew 23:4-6

[3] Matthew 6:1-6; 16-18

[4] Mark 12:41-44

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

One thought on “Approval Addiction Leads to Hypocrisy”

  1. Greeting John;
    I praise God for you and the work you are doing. I pray that God will keep you strong and healthy, and continually focusing on Him.

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