How to Stop Being a Hypocrite

March 7, 2024 — Krystal Craven
The title text "How to Stop Being a Hypocrite" over the Greek drama masks, one depicting comedy and the other tragedy.

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13:10-17)

It’s always amazing to see the hypocrisy of the Pharisees in Jesus time, especially because we have the words of Jesus to align our perspective with God’s. But that’s in hindsight. We would all love to think that we would never act the way the pharisees had, but we, like them, are human beings affected by a sin nature. There is definitely a difference we can notice in ourselves from before we surrender our lives to Christ, trusting in Him as Lord and Savior, but we can’t pretend that we are no longer in a struggle against our flesh nature, or we might succumb to it once again. We can also relate to this woman, even if not in disability, certainly in needing Jesus.

Disabling Decades

This woman was disabled for eighteen years! In America, and most other places around the world, that is the age of which we consider someone an adult. So in the time it takes for a child to enter the world and grow to full adulthood, was the length of time this woman had been afflicted with the disabling spirit. She would have been permanently hunched over, unable to make clear eye contact with people, and clearly not a concern to the pharisees who would have undoubtedly seen her come and go in the synagogue. Yet on that day, a Sabbath day, as Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, she happened to be there.

This woman never asked for the healing, but Jesus saw her condition of her not being able to straighten herself and He called her to Himself and healed her. This is much like our salvation – we can’t straighten our own ways out because we’re dead in our sins, but God sought us relentlessly, sending Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sin in order to redeem and reconcile us to Himself, and by His stripes we are healed. It took a personal calling and touch from Jesus to our hearts, much like took Him calling her, laying His hands on her, and her immediately being healed.

Hypocritical Hearts

As this woman had been healed, she glorified God. Yet the very next sentence is about an indignant synagogue ruler because she had been healed on the Sabbath. It would appear that the ruler couldn’t see past the nose on his own face because he didn’t even stop to rejoice in the miraculous healing that had just taken place or that the healing resulted not only in a life altering easement of her disability but in the glory of God.

But why was he so indignant? Unfortunately, it was based in the false belief surrounding what keeping the Sabbath day holy meant in the Law. God had designed the Sabbath day, starting at the very beginning of creation, to be a day of rest. This was an opportunity to rest from the hard work of life. God didn’t need the Sabbath when He rested on the seventh day of creation, but He implemented it and led by example. It was meant to be a gift for mankind, not to be a burden to mankind.

Much like sin does, it perverts and manipulates holiness, the traditions of men surrounding the Sabbath had done just that. Their rules made Sabbath what God never intended it to be. They put a huge burden on the people in how they were to keep Sabbath. The whole point was to destress and rest, but their rules in how to properly keep Sabbath became a huge stressor.

Yet so often the rulers would create loopholes to the rules in order to carry out necessary tasks, such as feeding and watering their animals. It is interesting that Jesus used that as an example as He pointed out their hypocrisy too. Because to untie a donkey would be to loosen the bonds it was being held by while it was dark and nighttime. In the morning, it would be untied and led by the owner to where there was water. In a similar way, Jesus unties our bonds and leads us out of darkness into light to drink freely from Him, the Living Water.

Shame or Sympathy

The ruler of the synagogue is the only one recorded speaking here, but Jesus’ response was to more than one person. He said, “You hypocrites” (plural) as He then specifically pointed out the hypocrisy. It wasn’t one person being a hypocrite, this was directed at all the rulers since by and large they were all of the same mind on this.

Jesus was blunt and honest in His rebuke of their hypocrisy and the rulers were put to shame. The apostle Peter later wrote, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15) Jesus was doing the will of His father when He healed this woman, and the foolish rulers were put to shame for their hypocrisy.

When we have a need, we want it attended to, right? How often do we see others in need and what percentage of the time do we help? Are there ever times when you purposely just look the other way or try to justify why you shouldn’t help?

It can be hard to have sympathy and compassion for people sometimes, enough to be moved to act with love. But that’s exactly what Jesus did.

If we want to be like Jesus and not like the synagogue rulers, then we need to be aware of our tendency to be hypocrites and spend time with Jesus. Have you ever heard the phrase “You are who you hang out with”? While it’s usually a warning about who you spend time with, the saying proves true with Jesus. The more you spend time with Jesus, the more you’ll become like Him. As you walk with Jesus, those hypocritical tendencies of your flesh will be carved away and the Spirit at work in you will produce good works that will silence the ignorance of even the most foolish people.

The title text "How to Stop Being a Hypocrite" over the Greek drama masks, one depicting comedy and the other tragedy.