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The Difference Between Hypocrisy & Courtesy


Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform; pretense.

Courtesy: the showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others.

It's doubtful that anyone would ever get these 2 words confused. But that doesn't mean we don't ever get the ideas confused.

You may have witnessed someone being an absolute donkey's tail while simultaneously congratulating themselves for not being a hypocrite. "Well, at least I'm not a hypocrite." (((insert eye-rolling here)))

Please, start being a hypocrite then, because your irreverent and annoying sincerity is ruining everyone's day. And maybe even their life.

It is hypocrisy to demand that people be kind to you while you are simultaneously unkind to them. It is hypocrisy to tout the value of tolerance while screaming vehemently that someone who disagrees with your is being intolerant. It would be hypocrisy for me to speak about the awfulness of some transgression without admitting that I too am a transgressor.

It is NOT hypocrisy to be kind to someone even when you don't feel like it, don't want to do it, and wish you could instead give the individual a piece of your mind (or worse). That's called being courteous. It's just being polite.

It is NOT hypocrisy to speak calmly and respectfully to someone with whom you have deep and significant disagreements. No, it's called courtesy. If you aren't accustomed to practicing it, then definitely you should try it.

And it is NOT hypocrisy to tell other sinners that their sin is a great offense to God. Because it is. All sin is. No sin needs to be normalized or downplayed in its significance. All types and varieties of violations of God's law should be magnified as awful, offensive, damnable, and deadly. Why? Because they are. As I often say, the whole human race was plunged into a cursed existence of pain, disease, war, destruction, fear, sorrow, and death... because Eve and Adam ate a piece of fruit! Really? Yes, really. If that violation was a big deal, then all violations are a big deal.

And so, it is not hypocrisy to warn hell-bound sinners of the woes they embrace. "Ah, but I see your flaws too," they may say in their own chosen way. "Who do you think you are to point out my problems. You're no saint, you know."

Well, actually. I am. I am a saint. God gave His only eternal Son as a sacrifice to pay the price of all my moral crimes. And, the record of Jesus' perfect life of good and right has been accredited to my account. God, by giving me this spiritual position and possession, made me a saint. Though I still sin, yet I am a saint. When I point out your sinfulness, I am only telling you that I am like you and you are like me. Except that I have found an escape from my guilt. And, I want you to have the same good thing that I have found; namely, Jesus.

If that is your definition of hypocrisy, then I must accept the label. However, it is my contention that you are confused. You are mistaking courtesy for hypocrisy.

Me: "Excuse me ma'am, before you drive away, did you know that your grocery bags are on the roof of your car."

Her: "What a jerk! I'm not listening to you. You have a bag on the roof of your own car too! #@!*% #!*?/^, Screech, Vroom!"

Me: "Good grief, what's the matter with her? I'm standing outside my car with the doors open still putting my groceries into my car. She's flying out of the parking lot with a scattering trail of groceries. I see cans of beens, loaves of bread, and gallons of milk skidding everywhere! What in the world?"

See, it's courteous to tell someone their fly is unzipped, or that they have a booger on the end of their nose, or that they have a piece of toilet papper stuck to the bottom of their shoe.

And it's even more than a courtesy to wake a person up if they are sleeping in a burning building. Just because I myself was sleeping too only moments beforehand, it's still not hypocrisy.

It would be a form of hypocrisy to pretend like the building is on fire when in fact I know for sure that it is not. And, it would be hypocrisy to pretend like the building is not on fire, when I know for a fact that it is. And, it is. The fiery wrath is God is already revealed against all unrighteousness.

Enoch preached about the Lord coming with His saints to execute judgment and justice on all who are ungodly.

Noah's ark and the great flood demonstrated the sufficiency of God's willingness to destroy His enemies.

Jesus asked, "How will you escape the damnation of hell?"

Peter warned that "...the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2nd Peter 3:10)

Paul, John, Jude, and many of the old prophets warned us passionately that the day of God's wrath is coming. We are told to get ready; to be ready. These men were all the same as all of us. They were just sinners, saved by God's grace. Their warnings were not (and are not) hypocritical. Those men have courteously shared the truth with us. In fact, "courteously" is much too mild of a word. The Apostle Paul called it "...the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward..." (Ephesians 3:2)

Paul was a holy dispenser. He wasn't dispensing soap or sweet tea though. He was dispensing the gospel; the good news that Jesus came to save sinners. By his own account, Paul was the chief of sinners. Yet he warned sinners far and wide of the damage their sin would do to them if they failed to repent and place their faith in Christ.

So, back to the original question; the one nobody was asking. What's the difference between hypocrisy and courtesy? The main difference is the "who" associated with the word protection. The hypocrite is always and only watching out for # 1. Hypocrisy is burgeoning with self-interest, self-service, and whatever other selfish words you can come up with. Courtesy suppresses self and is considerate of others instead.

The "who" of my hypocrisy is me, and the "who" of my courtesy is you. That's the difference. See, the 2 are indeed related. In fact, in a sense they are opposites. Or at least, they play for opposing teams and serve opposing forces. Hypocrisy is a fruit of the flesh; a spawn of Satan. Courtesy is a fruit of the Spirit. Or at least, it describes a combination of several of the items listed as the fruit of the Spirit: "The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And there is no law against these things!" (Galatians 5:22-23)

The next time you struggle to remain calm and to be courteous, remember Jesus speaking calmly to Judas at the moment of betrayal in the garden of Gethsemane. Consider David's patient regard for his wicked father-in-law, Saul. Think of Peter and John answering for themselves to the hostile Jewish court. Be mindful of Paul's deferring respect for the godless high priest. Imagine the real scene where Stephen prayed for absolution for those who were carrying out his martyrdom. These were all unmerited courtesies. We can rightly assume the sincerity of these godly men in every case, but what we must do for sure is to choose to follow in their footsteps with our actions.

Be courteous. Even when you feel like you are being fake, be courteous. It only becomes hypocrisy if you give up on it and quit. Even then, the courtesy WAS the right thing. It's the giving up and succumbing to thoughtlessness & inconsiderateness that is to be condemned, not the former nobility.

Being pleasant and hospitable when you really don't feel like it is not hypocrisy. It's courtesy.

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