Are You a Hypocrite?

 

“Do not judge” is an oft-abused trump card in debates. It seems clear that Jesus is not against judgment, but against a certain kind of judgment. The context makes that clear–just a few verses later He tells them to watch out for false prophets and that they can know them by their fruits, something which obviously requires the exercise of judgment. John 7:24 is helpful in differentiating the two kinds of judgment, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” Jesus is confronting a wrong kind of judging in Matthew 7:1-5, not all judgment.

hypocrite

Specifically, the reason that our Lord points out the hypocrisy of the judges in Matthew 7 is because they are not genuinely concerned about sin or about helping other people. If they were concerned about sin, they would deal with their own first. The fact that the person ignores the beam in his own eye while worrying about the speck in his brother’s eye shows that. If he really cared about sin, he wouldn’t ignore his own. If he really was concerned about the other person, he would take care of his own sin so that he could see clearly to help him. By ignoring his vision-impairing beam, he makes it clear that he really isn’t trying to help the speck-afflicted brother, but thinks himself better than him.

hypocrite 2

The righteousness that Jesus expects of His followers is evidenced by a genuine concern about sin that looks first at ourselves, then outward to help others. Phony, hypocritical concern about sin doesn’t deal with our own first, it focuses on the sins of others. My charge to the future pastors and missionaries was simply to not allow that phony spirit to invade their lives or ministries. If we, as leaders, are going to be genuinely serious about sin, then that starts by looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word.

It is much easier to point out where others are falling short than to admit and address our own errors. As leaders, though, refusing to acknowledge and act to correct our failures not only reveals a flaw in our character, it undermines the credibility of our claims to be concerned about wrong. How can anybody take the claim that we want to do what is right (by dealing with other people’s problems) when it is obvious that we don’t (by not dealing with our own)?

Few things, from my vantage point, undermine the leadership of parents, pastors, or ministries more than this kind of hypocrisy. The parent who quickly and strongly rebukes a child for wrong, while ignoring his or her own failures as a parent eventually loses the trust of the child. A pastor who confronts sin in the lives of church members, but fails to confront it in himself undermines his own spiritual leadership. A ministry or organization, for example, that exists chiefly to point out the disobedience of other people and ministries, but refuses to correct its own failures as aggressively loses its credibility by demonstrating that obedience isn’t really the controlling principle which governs it.

Jesus’ answer for judgmentalism is not to reject proper judgment, but to exercise it first with regard to ourselves. If we really care about sin, we’ll deal with the beams before we talk about specks. We’ll start in the mirror, not in somebody else’s eye.

 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” – (Matthew 23:2 – 4 KJV)

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When You Let Him Down

worrying

Peter did what he swore he wouldn’t do.  Three times the salt of Peter’s betrayal stung the wounds of the Messiah.  And he would never forget the look on Jesus’ face.  So Peter returned to Galilee.  Once again he had fished all night with no success.  And a voice from shores yells, “Try the other side!”  When John recognized Jesus, Peter swam to shore and stood in front of the friend he betrayed. For once, Peter was silent.  The moment was too holy for words.

What do you say at a moment such as this?  It’s just you and God.  You both know what you did.  And neither of you is proud of it.  What do you do? Consider doing what Peter did.  Stand still and wait—too repentant to speak, but too hopeful to leave.  He has come back.  Jesus invites you to try again.  This time, with him.

A Difficult Bunch

difficult relatives

Odds are, you probably have a difficult relative—someone you can’t talk to and can’t walk away from.  Did you know Jesus had a difficult family?  In fact, they were embarrassed by him.  Mark 3:21 tells us, “His family went to get him because they thought he was out of his mind.”

Notice that Jesus didn’t try to control his family’s behavior, nor did he let their behavior control his.  As long as you think you can control people’s behavior toward you, you are held in bondage by their opinions.

Let God give you what your family doesn’t.  We know that God affirmed Jesus as “my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him.”  Jesus gave his relatives space, time, and grace.  And because he did, they changed.  One brother became an apostle, and others became missionaries.  So don’t lose heart.  God still changes families, and difficult bunches.

 

The Greenhouse

quiet time

Proverbs 4:23 advises us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Think of your heart as a greenhouse and consider your thoughts as seed.  We must be selective about the seeds we allow to come into the greenhouse.

To have a pure heart, we must submit all thoughts to the authority of Christ.  You see, your mind is the doorway to your heart.  The Holy Spirit stands with you on the threshold, helping you manage and filter the thoughts that try to enter.  If Jesus agrees with the thought, then let it in.  If not, kick it out.  How do you know if Jesus agrees or disagrees?  You open your Bible. Armed with the opinion of Christ and the sword of the Spirit, guard the doorway of your heart. The more selective you are about seeds, the more delighted you will be with the crop.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways – (Proverbs 23:26 KJV)

 

A Hopeful Heart

Jesus said, “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.  If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dark cellar.”

In Gethsemane, Jesus faced betrayal on all levels.  The disciples ran away.  The people rejected him.  And God didn’t answer his anguished appeal to avoid “the cup of suffering.”  So, what did Christ do?  He found enough good in the face of Judas to call him friend, and he can help us do the same with those who hurt us.  He found purpose in the pain, seeing it as a necessary part of God’s greater plan.

Wouldn’t you love to have a hope-filled heart? God never promises to remove us from our struggles.  He does promise, however, to change the way we look at them.

 

An Honest Heart

In Acts 1:8 Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”  We are God’s witnesses.  And we are to speak truthfully.  God loves the truth and God hates deceit.  But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things.” How do we explain our inherent dishonesty?

Well, for one thing, we don’t like the truth because the truth isn’t always fun or convenient.  The wages of deceit is death.  Not death of the body, perhaps, but death of a marriage, a conscience, a career, or faith.  But perhaps the most tragic death that occurs from deceit is our witness. Examine your heart.  Do you tell the truth…always?  If not, start today.  Be just like Jesus.  Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free – (John 8: 32 ESV)

They are Watching

A vibrant, shining face is the mark of one who has stood in God’s presence.  After speaking to God, Moses had to cover his face with a veil.

But not only does God change the faces of those who worship; he changes those who watch us worship.  Paul told the Corinthian church to worship in such a way that if an unbeliever entered, he would find the secrets of his heart revealed; and would fall down on his face and worship God.

Seekers may not understand all that happens in a house of worship.  They may not understand the meaning of a song or the significance of communion.  But they know joy when they see it.  And when they see your face changed, they may want to see God’s face.  People, including your family, are watching.  Believe me.  They are watching.

 

A Quiet Heart

quiet heart

The delight of  a gentle teacher is a quiet, listening heart. The pleasure of a quiet heart is the soothing reverberation of a father’s love-inspired words. This is what happens when our hearts get quiet; God speaks.

We see Jesus’ quiet heart throughout scripture. As a child, he lingers a little longer at the Temple with the Bible teachers. In his adult years,  he draws away from crowds to places of solitude to gain strength, to handle grief, and to make important decisions. He slips out before dawn, and waits till after dusk. He meditates on mountain tops and riverbanks. We get a glimpse of the beautiful intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father when He calls him ‘Abba, Father’.

If Jesus thought it needful to take a break from the cares of the world, perhaps, we should too.

In our quiet moments of fellowship, we form deep a love-relationship with the Father as we tap into His Love and He pours into our yearning hearts. In the stillness of our hearts, He reveals Himself as our peace, our defense and our hope. We may not go to mountain tops and lakesides like Jesus did, but we can consistently section off times when we step out of the cloak of Pastor, or Evangelist, Parent and like Martha, revert to wide-eyed yearning kids, waiting to hear from the doting Father.

Some prefer lush scenery and beautiful views to have intimate conversations, God only requires a quiet heart.

 

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. – (1 Peter 3:4 ESV)