What is it to be an hypocrite?

I remember a time when one friend wanted me to give him more attention, but there was a friend of his who was always talking to him, and he just ignored him. So I said, “You want to get attention from me but refuse to give attention to others, that’s hypocritical.” He said “No, it’s not because I didn’t want his attention.”

But didn’t Jesus said that we should treat others as we want to be treated?


A hypocrite literally means an actor. It is someone who claims one thing, but you know he believes something else because of his behavior.

A good example is when Jesus accused the Pharisees of being hypocrites. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt" (Matthew 23:29-32). They claimed that they were better than their ancestors. If they had lived back in the days of the prophets, they would have treated the prophets with respect. To prove it, they even built fancy monuments to the murdered prophets. But in truth, they had killed John the Baptist not long before and were actively seeking to kill Jesus, the greatest prophet of all. Their deeds show that they are no different than their ancestors. In fact when someone builds a fancy tomb, are they really honoring the life of the prophet or the fact that the prophet is dead?

I love talking to people, but there are some people I don't care to talk to. Usually it is because they are trying to press their own false ideas on me and don't give due consideration back to points I make. I treat them as I want to be treated if I tried teaching a false idea. "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 7:12).

The point is that just because someone wants to talk to you, it doesn't follow that you would like to talk to everyone in the world. Now, I don't know all the details, and probably shouldn't be involved in the details because it is between two other people. My personal rule is that I try to help people with their problems, and not talk about third party problems unless it has a direct impact on the person I'm talking with. He wasn't necessarily being hypocritical. He might have not been handling the situation well, but not knowing what was going on, I can't comment. But when dealing with other people, it is generally best to give them the benefit of the doubt.