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.

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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.

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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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And When Ye Pray…

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“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”. Matthew 6: 7-8 

If there’s any where we can be completely honest about our deepest struggles, it is when we pray. Somehow, a bunch of us grew up feeling like effective prayer had to sound a certain way, and be said under a certain ambience.

When we pray is God isn’t moved by our eloquence, or good diction, or lengthiness,  or posture. He’s interested in the sincerity of our hearts. 

A weak man whose trust is in God is more secure than a strong man who is sure of himself.

When we go to The Lord’s presence in prayer let’s tell Him as it is. As we feel. As we truly desire. He is able and willing to hear and heal. One thing I am certain of, is that if there is a mouth to pray, there is a God to answer. 

Temple Builders and Saviour Seekers

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The next time you enter an assembly of worship, watch the people. You can tell the ones who remember the slain one.  They’re wide-eyed and expectant.  They don’t yawn while receiving a gift from the king himself!

You can also tell the ones who see only the temple.  Their eyes wander.  Their mouths open—not to sing, but to yawn.  The temple gazers don’t mean to be bored.  But the one they once planned to honor hasn’t been seen in a while.  But those who have seen him can’t forget him.  They find him, often in spite of the temple rather than because of it.

The temple builders and the Savior seekers.  One sees the structure and says, “What a great church.”  The other sees the Savior and says, “What a great Christ!”

 

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You- (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV)

A Single Seed

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Blessed are the peacemakers,” (Matthew 5:9).  Jesus said.  The principle for peace is the same as the principle for crops–  Never underestimate the power of a seed.  Somebody in your world desperately needs a word of peace.  Want to see a miracle?  Plant a word of love heart-deep in that person’s life.  Nurture it with a smile and a prayer, and watch what happens.

When God’s people had forgotten his name, he planted the seed of his own self in the womb of a Jewish girl.  The seed shoved away the stones of legalism, oppression and prejudice.  Then the stone of death was rolled by humans and sealed by Satan in front of the tomb.  But the seed of God shoved, the ground trembled, the rock tumbled, and the flower of Easter blossomed.  Never underestimate the power of a seed.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22)

It’s Possible with God

fountain of loveA rich young ruler once asked Jesus, “What must do to get eternal life?”  He thought he could find eternal life by his own strength.  But Jesus said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).  It wasn’t money that hindered the rich young man; it was self-sufficiency.  You don’t need a system; you need a Savior.  You don’t need a resumé; you need a Redeemer.  You cannot save yourself.

It’s not just the rich who have difficulty with this teaching.  So do the educated, the strong, the good-looking, the popular, the religious. Those who desire God’s presence don’t brag; they beg.  Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy.  Complete confession is not commonly followed by total pardon.  But then again, God has never been governed by what is common.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever”. – (Ephesians 3:20-21 KJV)

 

A Silenced Boast

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A Hanoverian countess was known for her disbelief in God and her conviction that no one could call life from a tomb.  Before her death, she ensured that her tomb would be a mockery to belief in the resurrection.  It was sealed with a slab of granite.  Blocks of stone were placed around her tomb.  Heavy iron clamps fastened the blocks together and to the granite slab.  The inscription read:

This burial place,
purchased to all eternity,
must never be opened.

However, a small birch tree had other plans.  Over the years it forced its way until the iron clamps popped loose, and the granite lid was raised.  Now the stone cover rests again the trunk of the birch.  Its boastful epitaph has been permanently silenced by the work of a determined tree…or a powerful God.

 

Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed – (1 Samuel 2:3 NIV)

Written in His Palms

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See, I have engraved you in the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16).  Those are God’s words.  Your name is not buried in some heavenly file.  God needs no name tag to jog His memory about you.  Your name is tattooed, engraved on His hand.  You are everything to God.

Max Lucado tells the story of a priest from Detroit who traveled to Ireland to visit relatives.  One day he was walking the shores of Lake Killarney with his uncle.  They watched the sun rise and for a full twenty minutes, the two men scarcely spoke.  As they resumed their walk, the priest noticed that his uncle was smiling.  “Uncle,” he said, “You look very happy.”  “I am,” his uncle responded. “How come?” asked the priest.  “Because the father of Jesus is very fond of me.”

He’s fond of you too dear friend.

Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully – (1 Peter 5:7-9 AMP)

 

 

The One Who Wont Give Up

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God never gives up.  When on trial before the cross, people spat in his face, but he didn’t spit back.  When a whip ripped his sides, he didn’t command the awaiting angels to stuff that whip down the soldier’s throat. When human hands fastened the divine hands to a cross with spikes, it wasn’t the soldiers who held the hands of Jesus  steady.  It was God who held them steady.

God never gives up. Not then, not now, not ever. So the next time doubt walks in. Escort him out. Out to the hill. Out to Calvary. Out to the cross where, with holy blood, holy hands wrote the promise: God would give up His only Son before He’d give up on you.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. -(Eph 3:16 -19NIV)