Hypocrisy is dangerous. Anytime a person pays more attention to building their reputation, image, or brand than they do developing their character, the results can be devastating. So what can work a day world Christians do to prevent pretense in our lives? Here’s a little list of things for you to consider:
1. Don’t judge others actions or their motives. Jesus said it best, “Do not judge others and you will not be judged. For you will be treated (judged) as you treat (judge) others” (Matthew 7:1-2, NLT). If you will commit to totally avoid the trap of comparing yourself to others, which is the basis of judging, you’ll have a nice head start on preventing pretense.
2. Acknowledge the possibility of hypocrisy in your own life. In other words, walk in genuine humility. 1 Corinthians 10:12 states, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.”
3. Be open to someone who truly loves you (no agendas, no strings attached) speaking truth into your life. A mirror can help us correct physical imperfections, such as uncombed hair or lettuce in the teeth. But a true friend serves as a mirror into your soul and helps you see the nicks and dings in your character that need work. One of the reasons King David got off to a spectacular start in life was that he had Jonathan at his side to tell him the truth when he needed to hear it. As long as Jonathan was alive, David was unbeatable. But when David lost his “mirror,” he went downhill. Fast.
4. Ruthlessly eradicate pretense at first sight. While Acts 5 doesn’t give us the extended version of Ananias and Sapphira’s story, experience would tell us that they didn’t just wake up one morning a decide to pull the biggest ruse in church history up to that point in time. We never just wake up and sin grossly. There’s an erosion that takes place in character, followed by the determination to take a short cut. My point is that all sin comes to us gradually. When we sense the drift, we need to take pre-emptive action.
5. Choose your audience daily. Joshua gives us a great example of this. In chapter 24 of the book that bears his name, Joshua challenged the people with this: “Choose this day who you will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Every day we must renew our commitment to live our lives for an audience of One.
6. Finally, always remember that you can fool all of the people all of the time, but you can never fool God. This is a simple yet profound reality that we need to be reminded of regularly. God sees you, inside and out, all the time. Others may not be able to tell whether or not you’re a faker, but God knows.
I hope these suggestions will be helpful to you in the ongoing battle against pretense and hypocrisy. You may not become sinlessly perfect in life. But you can become an authentic person of character and integrity. When you do, your reputation will take care of itself.