Friday, April 15, 2016

The Journey Through Hypocrisy

Submitted by Kerry Patton
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me... Romans 7:18-20
Ever Been Called A Hypocrite?
I have.  And there may be evidence that it was true.  Merriam-Webster defines a hypocrite as:
  • A person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
I do claim to be a Christian…I certainly don’t pretend to be, but my behavior from time to time does disagree with those beliefs.  As much as I desire to be, I am not yet perfect…not even close.  I make no assertion that my behavior has completely conformed to the behavior of Jesus Christ, the son of the living God.
 It should be noted that the above definition from Merriam-Webster is actually the second definition provided online.  The first definition reads as follows:
  • A person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion.
And that seems to be the line of delineation doesn’t it? We feel justified in labeling someone as a hypocrite when we perceive that they are merely putting on an act as a Christian.  In such cases the problem of hypocrisy seems easily identifiable.
Normal Hypocrisy
For most of us however, this level of hypocrisy is not our struggle.  We identify much more closely with the Apostle Paul in the passage above.  It is that we desire to display righteousness and the likeness of Christ, but the struggle with our own flesh causes us to behave otherwise.  For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” Romans 7:19
Candidly, it is not this reality that most concerns me: that I am alarmed by the evil practices not yet conquered in my daily living. Rather I am most concerned by that hypocrisy that does not alarm me at all.  Did you follow that?  I am most concerned by those threads of sin woven into the canvas of my daily living that have become normal to me.
Recently, I became aware of a particular problem in my own thinking: I realized that I had a problem with people parking in fire zones in our church parking lot, but apparently had no problem with the fact that I habitually exit the parking lot against the directions of the painted arrows! So, why am I so aware of people parking in the fire zones, but totally unconcerned with my own ignoring the traffic flow arrows??? This, friends, is hypocrisy.  If I am closely monitoring the behavior of others, but ignoring my own actions, this is a problem.
The overarching concern is we do not want flaws and failures in our living that have become normative to us, to be causing a baby Christian or a seeker to stumble in his or her faith.
The Journey Through
We understand that our faith is based not on our good works, but the love and grace of God toward us through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  We do not discount however that our works are the evidence of faith living within us.  As James 2:17-18 states:
“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
We will not become controlled by the opinions of others, nor overly concerned by what they might be thinking in observing what we do in our every moment.  However, we are wise to live in such a way as to cause none to stumble. We are to examine our living daily and seek the aid of the Holy Spirit to continue the work of change in us.
 Scripture to claim:
 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good,22 reject every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-23


Almighty God, We have no secrets from you.  You see our deeds, you hear our words, and you know even our thoughts.  Guard our steps O Lord, and make straight our paths. As David prayed: *“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen. (*Psalm 139:23, 24)

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