The Evil of Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:27-32
1Thes 2:9-13 / Psa 139

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
(Matthew 23:27)

Don’t be deceived by what may seem
So innocent, no trace of guilt . . .
Remember those who lie and scheme
Are whitewashed tombs hiding their filth.

Jesus said: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. In just the same way, from the outside you look righteous, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the memorials of the righteous, saying, “We would never have joined in shedding the blood of the prophets, had we lived in our ancestors’ day.” So! You bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets! Very well then, finish off the work that your ancestors began.” (Matthew 23:27-32)


Our Lord showed us how much He loves the meek and gentle of heart, those who humble themselves, those who make themselves least by serving others. On the other hand, we have learned how much He despised the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteous pride. Our Lord’s condemnation of hypocrisy is understandable, considering that this character flaw is the greatest obstacle to one’s repentance, without which one can never undergo genuine conversion.

Hypocrisy is such a subtle sin that a lot of people are not aware of being hypocritical in their attitude towards others. Being judgmental about another person in any way is a form of hypocrisy, because “the measure with which we measure will be measured out to us.” (Mt.7:1) Erroneous upbringing can also lead us to bias and prejudice, another form of hypocrisy. Without any malice, we just don’t feel like associating with certain types of people, because we don’t feel comfortable with their presence; they bore us to death; they lack some social graces, etc. In fact, people who say that they don’t like to behave like good Christians because they don’t want to be called hypocrites are in fact being hypocritical.

Jesus warned His disciples to “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Lk.12:1) Yeast expands the bread, but makes it empty inside; so does hypocrisy make people bloat with pride, and makes their faith empty. Our Lord warns us to take care that we are not influenced by the hypocrisy of others, because as said earlier, pride and prejudice are very subtle sins that scheming Satan can cause to permeate in our community. St. Peter and Barnabas themselves were accused of hypocrisy for avoiding meals with Gentile Christians when the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem were present (Gal.2:11-13). We must therefore always be on guard against the impurity of our motives, such as pride, selfishness, and envy. These are the offsprings of hypocrisy, and the best antidote is a humble spirit. Cultivate humility, the sweetest fragrance that is most pleasing to our God.

Keep me from being self-righteous, Lord God; remind me that all the good that I do are through no efforts of mine, because they all come from You. Amen.

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