Be the Opposite of a Hypocrite

Be the Opposite of a Hypocrite

Knowledge doesn’t terminate on the knower. We don’t learn in order to conceal, just like a lamp isn’t lit to be put under a basket (Matthew 5:15). We learn in order to express — to lead others in seeing and savoring what we have seen and savored. And that means we don’t merely say it, but that we say it effectively.

To encourage this kind of communication, John Piper recently explained four characteristics of helpful speaking and writing to new graduates of Bethlehem College and Seminary. He counsels communicators to say what they’ve seen with truth, with logic, with pictures, and with love.

It’s perhaps that first point, though, that might surprise most of us. It could seem redundant to say that communicators of truth should communicate with truth. But as Piper explains it, he doesn’t mainly have in mind that we be the opposite of liars, but that we be the opposite of hypocrites. He then continues by giving a profile of hypocrisy:

A hypocrite is a peculiar kind of liar. Hypocrisy is a peculiar kind of lying. A hypocrite is a person for whom lying has gone down into the personality. Hypocrites don’t just tell lies, they are lies. . . . A hypocrite is a horrifying spectacle. Truth has become utterly alien, swept away by deep, deep devotion to self-protection, and self-preservation, and self-exaltation. . . . Truth is not functional in the hypocrite. It is not a governing category. It is gone. And this is terrifying. Don’t let this happen.

Don’t let this happen — that’s not simply the exhortation of a school chancellor. Those are the words of Jesus as he pleads with us in Matthew 6:5,

You must not be like the hypocrites.

In other words, speak the truth with truth. Be the opposite of a hypocrite.


Watch John Piper’s entire 23-minute address:

More on speaking and writing:

Jonathan Parnell (@jonathanparnell) is a writer and content strategist at Desiring God, and is the lead planter of Cities Church in Minneapolis–Saint Paul, where he lives with his wife, Melissa, and their four children. He is also the co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.