The Perils of Serving with a Hypocritical Heart


Have you ever done a good work and later realized it was more about you than the person you were doing the good work for?  Ever served tirelessly but been tempted to focus on yourself and the payoff you might get instead of the glory that belongs to God?

You’re not alone.

The Pharisees did all their good works for people to see so others would esteem them. But Jesus exhorted them for their hypocritical hearts. And here’s what He uncovered:

The Pharisees were more interested in their own agendas than the Kingdom.

They wanted to do things their way. Their need to be praised blinded them to the underlying motives of pride and control that filled their hearts. 

They could be insincere.

The Pharisees often took oaths, but they did it to impress others—not  because they had pure hearts.

They worshiped rules, not relationships

They cared more about people’s behavior than they did about their hearts. Their need to focus on the law trumped an intimate relationship with God. They tried to look good on the outside, but inside they were full of “dead men’s bones.”

 Serving, or being in a place of leadership, carries a tremendous responsibility; it’s easy to be blinded by hidden faults or wrong motives.

How do we keep a pure heart?

We develop a sense of self-awareness; we take time to pray, continually examining our hearts before God—something the Pharisees weren’t willing to do. We also find an accountability partner. Someone who will be honest with us about our hidden faults and speak the truth into our lives like Nathan the prophet did for King David (2Samuel 12).

 What are some hidden faults we may be blind to? Here are a few to consider:

  • Control
  • Tying to prove our self-worth through performing
  • Self dependence instead of dependence on God
  • Focusing on appearances
  • People-pleasing instead of God-pleasing
  • Assuming we know more than others (pride)

 Service can be a wearisome task if we try to do it in our own strength, but if we choose to depend on Christ as we serve, it creates the potential for growth like no other spiritual discipline. Genuine transformation flows from a humble heart.

So how can we deal a death-blow to any wrong motives that have taken center-stage in our service to others?

  • Cultivate humility through prayer
  • Surrender our rights to have things our way
  • Consider what needs are being met through our service (value/worth, adequacy, love) and allow Christ to meet these needs, not others
  • Examine our belief system, the ones we hold about ourselves, God, and others to see if any beliefs need modifying (i.e. I know how to get the job done better than others)
  • Forgive—don’t let a root of bitterness spring up when we don’t get our way or when others hurt or disappoint

 In Psalm 19, David asks God to deliver him from hidden faults. David understood the perils of hypocrisy.

 Father, we ask you to reveal any patterns that might be offensive to you. May we receive your answers with an open heart and a willingness to change.

In what ways do you struggle with a need to control, battle self-worth, or worry with pleasing others more than God? Leave a comment below and be entered to win a FREE pink Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young {it rocks!}.


 Rita SchulteRita Schulte is a licensed professional board certified counselor. She received her B.S. in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Rita has a private practice with offices in Fairfax and Manassas Virginia where she specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, anxiety and depressive disorders as well as grief and loss issues. In April, 2011 she launched “Heartline Podcast” where she talks with top leaders in the Christian counseling and literary world about cutting edge issues affecting the hearts and lives of people today.  She also airs a 1 minute devotional spot Consider This on 90.5 FM in NC and 90.9 FM in Lynchburg, VA. Heartline airs on Saturday evenings on 90.5 FM NC and will be heard on Christian Life Internet Radio in the coming months.




One thought on “The Perils of Serving with a Hypocritical Heart

  1. Hi Rita, This post reminded me of a time in the mid-seventies when, as a new Christian, I started setting up bands that were on the scene through Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, to come and play during the lunch break across the street from the high school. There was a gazebo there with electricity, and the kids were allowed to eat their lunch there. It still remember what I felt like to be talking to band members I thought of as famous (they had a record or two out). I remember how frustrated I felt at the students for not realizing what a fantastic gift I was giving them. I saw no results (not saying that God didn’t move hearts but it didn’t seem like it). Finally, when it became too hard for me to keep this up, and I was running out of bands willing to do this, I gave up. I ended up believing I had missed God and that it had been all about me. I’m sure this will come into play as long as we are human, but your post gave us some great things to ponder as we wade our way through out motives when helping others. Thank you!

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