There’s probably nothing sicker than religious hypocrisy–people who claim to be tight with God, but then turn out to be total fakes. We hear it all the time: “the church is full of hypocrites.” If religious hypocrisy makes you mad, you’re in good company, because Jesus couldn’t stand it either. In fact, a lot of people don’t realize that Jesus was very first person in recorded history to call out religious people as hypocrites.

In the passage for this sermon, Jesus is going to show us three things about hypocrisy:


  1. The Profile of Hypocrisy: Hypocrisy is when goodness becomes virtue signaling. In this definition, hypocrites are not being good for God’s sake or even goodness’ sake, but they are being good for their own sake. For them, it’s about image and brand management, playing to the audience. This is the kind of righteousness that parades itself in order to be seen by others.
  2. The Tyranny of Applause: Jesus says that those who live for the applause of others have received their reward. He’s saying that the human applause may make us feel like we’re gaining the whole world, but in reality we’re losing our souls. Because human applause is tyranny for three reasons: it’s inauthentic, it’s addicting, and it’s idolatrous. We can do all the right things for all the wrong reasons. When we live for the approval of others, we will die of rejection from God. Ultimately, we need more than a good image; we need a new heart.
  3. The Freedom of Secrecy: Jesus isn’t giving us a new law, He’s offering us a new heart of undistracted, loving affection for God and God alone. This is the heart of a child delighting in the smile of our Heavenly Father. All the smiles of earth can never compare to the smile of Heaven. And if we have the smile of our Father, we can face the frowns of men.


Takeaway: will you live for an audience of One?


That’s what Jesus is saying: come to me… I will give you a heart that dares to live for an audience of One, with eyes only for your Father! See His smile… and it’ll be enough.


So how do we live this out this week? Do something Jesus-like… and keep it quiet. Allow the quiet smile of Heaven to eclipse the thunderous applause of men, and trust that your Father who sees in secret will reward you.


Matthew 5:48-6:18


Watch Living The Message episode about this sermon here: