Hypocricy in the church

We’ve all seen them – people claiming to be Christians, or churchgoers, or “religious” (a term that I’ve always shied away from) but don’t have a clue what it means to live lives in obedience to Christ. They show up to church and are willing to judge others for not doing so, yet can’t seem to forgive others, show mercy or act sacrificially.

My friends, in marketplace terms, these folks are our competition. As we pray for our coworkers and try our best to represent (re-present) the grace of Jesus to those around us, we are sometimes overshadowed by those who mis-represent what it means to be a Christian. Unfortunately, even in a world of Mother Theresas, it would be the lone, coiffed, money-grubbing televangelist that would garner the most attention.

Jesus didn’t exactly appreciate the hypocrites of his day either, most of whom were religious leaders (Pharisees).  The entire 23rd chapter of Matthew is about hypocritical church leaders, and one of his choice comments is found in Matt 23:25-26,

“How terrible it will be for you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean, too.”

Many have turned from God because of the actions of hypocrites in the church, and we should be on guard at work. We should first be on guard not to be chumming around the workplace with those that behave this way or else our own integrity could be marred. Additionally, and even more importantly, we should guard against the “yeast of the Pharisees” (Matt 16) in our own hearts. Sometimes our own behaviors betray us, and little is more impactful to our workplace ministry than rooting them out.  Jesus said that when the inside of the cup becomes clean, the outside becomes clean too. We can lean on that bold prayer that King David prayed in Psalm 139:23-24, lest we become the competitor among us.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”


Pride & Competition


I don’t know about you, but there are a few business magazines that I really enjoy, and Harvard Business Review and Fast Company are pretty high on that list. Today I was reading this month’s Fast Company, which features a front page article on the world’s 50 most innovative companies. As I browsed the article (which I was thoroughly enjoyed since I’m an innovation geek) I saw that one of my company’s primary competitors made the list. Bummer!

I was reminded that I shouldn’t let my competitive nature get the better of me. One person who let a prideful, competitive mindset hurt him was King Saul. David (who at the time was a young, small shepherd boy) stole a lot of King Saul’s limelight as Israel’s commander-in-chief when he defeated Goliath. Saul ultimately threw away his kingdom when he became utterly consumed with David’s popularity (1 Sam 18) and became willing to sacrifice everything to remain the most popular in the eyes of the people.  They key learning is this: if you focus too much on beating them, you’ll lose what makes you great.

In truth, it didn’t really bother me too much that our competitor made the list – what bugged me is that we didn’t. In the end, that’s probably a good thing.  The truth is, without good competition we’d be much less inclined to be our best. We need them and they need us. As much as it might pain us, we should be thankful for good competitors.