A Self-Serving Faith?

Image by Deacon3000 (CCL)

“My hypocrisy knows no bounds.”  That famous quote from the movie Tombstone has always stuck inside of my head.  Five little words can say a lot — even from a movie.

We don’t often think about hypocrisy….because in the end, there is the very real threat that our own conscience might indict us.

The word hypocrite comes from the Greek culture.   It was used to describe the actors who wore masks used in the dramatization of their roles.  It’s easy to hide behind a mask, appearing to be one thing — in reality, being another thing altogether.

The fact is — we all struggle with hypocrisy.  We all do things we say we do not do.  We are all sinners — and we all sin.

I am humbled when I read in Jeremiah 17:10:

I, the LORD, probe into people’s minds.  I examine people’s hearts.  I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.  I give them what they deserved based on what they have done.”

Do I choose to tuck that fact in the back of my brain and forget about it?

We are told in 1 Peter 2:1 to “get rid of all evil and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” That’s a tall order.

Can we do it?   No.  But God can work in our hearts and minds if we allow Him.  In our fallen human condition, it is impossible to be perfect on this earth but we can choose to allow God’s word to guide our actions.  We can choose to let God’s word to live so deeply within our hearts and minds that our natural inclination will be to follow His words.  Quite frankly, I’m not sure how we can live with outselves without relying on God in such a way.

How do we get rid of evil, deceit and hypocrisy?  The next verse (1 Peter 2:2) explains,

“YEARN like newborn infants for pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up to salvation, if you have experienced the Lord’s kindness.”

I pray everyday that my children, family and friends will take this verse to heart.  Yearn for — long for — God’s word.

We are warned in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 that some of us will desert the faith, being influenced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.

Do we think this is possible?  Are we so self-confident that we will not fall prey to these influences?  Or shall we, like Doc Holliday in Tombstone, brag about our hypocrisy?

If we do, we are foolish.  Let us, instead, desire humility.  1 Peter 5:5 says that God opposed the proud but gives grace to the humble. He requests that we clothe ourselves with humility. It says the same thing in James 4:6 — a passage learned from Proverbs 3:34.  The old things — the old teachings — still matter.

Finally, Jesus himself reminds us of this:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”

I have a feeling that we make the load hard to carry — by our hypocrisy.  His load is not burdensome.  It is freeing.

God reminds me that in order for me to receive His favor, I must understand His precepts.

Isaiah 66:2 My hand made them;
that is how they came to be,” says the LORD.
I show special favor to the humble and contrite,
who respect what I have to say.

So many times we blame God for our circumstances.  Do we respect what God has to say?  Do we take the time — do we make it a priority to know the things of God — accurately?

Loyalty (Image by soldiersmediacenter CCL)

Psalm 107 reminds us that He is the one who has delivered us.  When the Israelites wandered through the wilderness — they were hungry and thirsty.  They cried out to God.  He satisfied their hunger and thirst.  Again, they rebelled against His command.  So God used suffering to humble them — they stumbled and no one helped them up. (Ouch – that one hurts – God used suffering to humble them.  How many of you try to say, “God wouldn’t ‘ do that?”)

They continued their sinful pattern, crying out to God and faithfully, He delivered them. They acted like fools in their rebellious ways and they suffered because of their sins.  They cried out yet again and God once again, faithfully delivered them from their troubles.  He assured them and healed them.  Time and time again the people repeated the rebellion/humbling scenario.

Do you see a pattern here?

The last verse says:  “Whoever is wise, let him take note of these things!  Let them consider the LORD’s acts of loyal love!

Respect.  Humility.  God made us.  God in us.   God has been faithful to us.  He is loyal to us.  Him — not us!

Let us take note!  Let us be careful not to have a self-serving faith bathed in hypocrisy but rather, choose to bathe ourselves in humility.  Humility can go a long way towards countering the hypocrisy in our hearts.

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