The words "hypocrisy" and "hypocrite(s)" have been sprinkled liberally throughout the last two posts on Wrights Lane. I feel compelled to write on the subject one final time but I have no idea where I am going to end up with it.
Initially, I dislike hypocrisy in others...and I dislike hypocrisy in myself. That, in a nutshell, kind of sums things up; but why is that?
There are two aspects to the hypocrisy phenomenon, one being the deceit of others and the other equally harmful trait -- deceit of self.
Deceit is called hypocrisy when there is piety in the mouth, and impiety in the heart; or when there is charity in the mouth, but hatred in the heart; or when there is innocence in the face and gesture, but cruelty in the soul and breast; consequently deception by a show of innocence, charity, and piety.
We tend, by nature, to deceive ourselves too. Our natural inclination is to choose to be deceived rather than to face truth that is painful and unpleasant. If you need proof of that, just look at the political process. It seems to be the consensus today that it is impossible to get elected to national office by telling the truth. Instead, politicians poll their constituents to find out what they want to hear, then, depending on the results of the polls, say things calculated to leave a certain impression. The way to get elected is not to cast ideas in the clearest, most forceful terms, but in ways that will massage the hopes and interests of people. Even attempts to take a strong position for the truth are perceived to be part of the old sincerity ploy: "Be sincere whether you mean it or not." Is it any wonder that voters are apathetic over the political process?
Fortunes are made today on people who buy diets, beauty and health aids that purport to make their users svelte and beautiful without the need to make critical changes in their lifestyle. Our natural human inclination is to prefer pleasant lies in place of difficult truth. Choosing to be deceived with regard to diet may be a fairly innocuous decision, but as far as our spiritual life is concerned it is very, very dangerous to choose to be deceived. We do well to recognize that life is built in the same manner as a building is erected, i.e., one brick at a time. Choices are made one at a time. By our individual choices we put in place one brick after another, and the kind of life that results from our decision-making depends on the hundreds and thousands of individual choices that went into it.
Whether we try to deceive ourselves about our behavior, the nature of God, or sin, it tells us something deeper about human nature. "…the phenomena of self-deception testifies that we human beings, even when we do evil, are incorrigibly sold on goodness. At some level of our being, we know that goodness is as plausible and original as God, and that, in the history of the human race, goodness is older than sin" (Alvin Carl Plantinga, professor/Christian philosopher).
So, let's not kid (deceive) ourselves...We are all hypocrites by nature. Thankfully our intuitive sense of goodness balances the scales as we make our way through life. When we see hypocrisy in others, more often than not we are looking in a mirror. We should not throw stones from our delicate glass houses!
There is a fine line between virtue and insincerity. We walk it every day of our life.
I'm not sure that this was where I was going when I started this post, but this is where I end up.