Our Lord Jesus was addressing the Pharisees of His time as hypocrites, because they led apparently clean lives outside but were greedy and self-indulgent on the inside.
Actually, the Lord was putting out a challenge to all to clean up, not only what is on the outside, but more importantly, what is inside of us. To be pious or do acts of charity is a great thing if love and kindness is in one’s heart. However, if done as a show of self-sacrifice for self-glorification, it becomes selfish and hypocritical. While we may receive the temporal reward of men’s praise and recognition, to the Lord, it is of no value.
The Lord says in Matthew 6:2: “When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.”
The Pharisees were quick to criticize the Lord for not performing the traditional cleansing before eating. They adhered to the letter of the law but failed to see their own shortcomings. They saw the speck in the eye of another but failed to see the plank in their own eyes (Lk 6:42).
Our hypocrisy does not deceive or fool God. Our Lord knows the desires of our hearts. “And he said to them, “You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Lk 16:15)
Our lives should be transparent, revealing Christ living in us and converting us. We should mirror the peace and the kindness of Jesus inside and out. God’s love for us awakens our love for Him, and that love is translated into service to others in His name.