Overcoming Hypocrisy

The Sainted Elder Ambrose of Optina said: "One must live unhypocritically, and give to all an example, then will our work be sure, otherwise it will turn out poor."

What is it to live without hypocrisy?

From The Master's teaching in Matthew 23 and Luke 11, it is clear that hypocrisy is a condemnable as a profound sin. From text it is clear that hypocrisy has little to do with goals or perhaps even intentions, for the Scribes and Pharisees where righteous in their teaching and motivations, nevertheless they obstructed the path to God, both their own path and the path of others. 

Further information can be found in John 8: 12-59, in which the paternity claims of the Pharisees are contrasted with those of the Christ, the crux of the argument turning on doing the will of one's father. Christ does the will of The Father, while the Pharisees do the will of their true father (the devil), not the fathers they claim (Abraham and Moses). 

For Orthodox, imitation (copying the behavior of), rather than emulating (patterning ones behavior after), of Christ can become misguided, for it depreciates the gift of one's actual personhood, and thus a distraction from fulfilling the Dominical Commandment: "Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48), a point made clear by St. Seraphim of Sarov in his conversation with Nicholas Motovilov, as fullness of personhood is transfigured without loss of identity. 

The goal in the struggle against hypocrisy is to authenticate the one's self, acquiring one's perfection in the practice of love, which is to say doing that which we see Christ doing, just as Christ did that which His Father did, fulfilling the Law of God as the Law of Love, bringing all to God. Again, the well-known evangelic saying of St. Seraphim of Sarov: "Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand souls around you will be saved.”  

More than natural desire for repentance of disobedience, in the monastic life, the person endeavors to acquire peace by curing the broken-heartedness of the human person that results from experience with many sins in the world that give birth to the many passions of the soul.

The essence of the hypocrisy the contradiction of the human being as a rational creature by its seeming powerlessness against the irrational activity that carry the person deep into a life dominated by sin and worse than sin, into insensitivity, into despondency, and ultimately into blasphemy.

Those seeking to practice Christian philosophy within the brotherhood of an Orthodox monastery, must seek to heal the soul, restoring it to the sanity of authentic righteousness, by means of self-discipline to forgo the causes of its own destruction: acquisitiveness and materialism, self-absorption, and self-satisfaction, by undertaking a commitment not only to obedience and blessing seeking, but the embrace of voluntary poverty, authentic chastity and the acquisition of virginity, and the practice of meekness born of confessing with the prayer that discloses the mind-heart to God:  Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me, a sinner. 

Again, Matthew 5:13-19

You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is then good for nothing, only to be cast out, and to be trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city located on an mountain cannot be hidden. Neither do you light a lamp and place in under a measuring basket, but on a stand. And so it shines to all who are in the house. Likewise, let your light shine before all men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Who is in the heavens. Do not begin think that I came to abolish the law and the prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill! Amen, I tell you: until the heaven and the earth shall have passed away, not even one iota or tiny pen stroke shall pass away from the law, until all things have taken place. Whoever, therefore, shall break one of the least of these commandments and teach others to do so shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.