Do not pray like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.

Matthew 6:5

Sometimes you gotta pity the hypocrite.

Jesus describes the hypcocrite as those who stand on the street corners and pray out loud so that they may be seen by others. I am sure that our contemporary context calls for a different description, but either way, hypocrites don’t really change in heart.

They stand at street corners and perform because their target audience is people. They take their religious duties and make it a show before others.

Now, I’m sure that you can hear the scathing remarks that will ensue about these people. How they flaunt the faith, and perform a show for the rewards of the praises of others. How they dishonor the faith and all that jazz.

But before that, let me as a simple question that the Lord asked me about them: Why would they do that?

Might I suggest something about the heart of a hypocrite? Perhaps in all their shows and flaunting for the fetching of the praises of men/women, perhaps their greatest deficiency is that they lack a true relationship with Jesus?

I propose that hypocrites seek an audience of others because they don’t know the joy of living before the audience of One. Hypocrites do what they do because they lack a real encounter with God’s love.

Hypocrites perform their religious duties out of their insecurity. We can condemn them (because they are wrong), but pastorally, I think they deserve some pity and prayer. The need to perform before others is merely evidence that they do not know Jesus’ love.

It’s a true encounter with Jesus’ love which disables our need to be religious. It is knowing that one is loved and cherished that they lose the need to be praised by others.

Hypocrites, I believe, are simply those who lack love.