Wednesday, August 10, 2011

These Words Ministry: 3 Ways to Avoid Being a Hypocrite

These Words Ministry: 3 Ways to Avoid Being a Hypocrite: " 'For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,' Romans 3:23. Hypocrisy is a sin that often cripples a Christians wit..."

3 Ways to Avoid Being a Hypocrite

     "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23.

     Hypocrisy is a sin that often cripples a Christians witness to the world and his/her walk with the Lord.  It is a n easy trap to fall into for the Christian and one that we must always be vigilant to avoid.  Hypocrisy is largely a byproduct of self righteousness and conceit.  The Apostle Paul stated that we should always consider others first so conceit should be anathema to a Christian.  We should never say something like, "I would never do that!"  Really, do you know who you are?  Adrian Rogers said it well, "Conceit is a disease that makes everyone sick except the one who has it."  That is well said except that eventually conceit devours the one who has it.  So, what are three ways(not the only three) for us to avoid this trap of hypocrisy?

1) Remember your depravity, your uselessness apart from Christ.  Think back before you were born again.  Heck, think back to a few weeks ago when you struggled with something.  Even ten minutes ago for some of us!  I don't know about you but my sin is ever before me and I echo Paul's thoughts when he called himself "the chief of sinners".  Remember what Christ had to do for you to make you acceptable to the Father: "For our sake he made him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God," 2Cor. 5:21.  Our righteousness, on our best days, is described as "filthy rags".  Let's not spread our filth around but dwell on the righteousness that spreads Christ around.  Our works are filthy, that is why Paul told us that, "For by grace you are saved, through faith, it is a gift of God lest anyone should boast," Ephesian 2:8:9.  It is because of our conceit that God had to send His Son to die for us.  He knows that we cannot help but boast.  So let us boast in Christ and His righteousness that cost Him everything.  Let us be filled with Spirit and walk in the works that Christ has prepared for us and let His righteousness than boast through us!

2)  Dwell on and remember God's greatness and glory!  This struck me while I was do my daily reading and read something in 1 Timothy.  "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world and taken up in glory."  When Paul considered godliness what did he do?  Did he fall back into morals and rules, do's and don'ts?  Nope, we must know those things to define our walk but Paul started remember Christ and what He did for him.  What was the Passover about?  Remembering God's awesome work in delivering the Hebrews from bondage.  What did Jesus tell those men on the road to Emmaus?  He expounded on God's great works, he remembered and reminded.  We need to pray back God's word and promises to Him and pour out our hearts in reverence.  We must seek then to live His glory through ministering to the church and the lost world we live in, seeking every opportunity for God's grace to flow through us.  Ask people for prayer requests and pray for them, maybe even right there!  Say God bless you and Lord willing and mean it, instead of the empty words we use so often in conversation.  Correct people when they take the Lord's name in vain.  Let them know who it is they are speaking of and how awesome He is!  Let God's glory consume you and watch the sparks fly!

3)  Confess and repent.  Do this daily.  Do this as you need it and do it in private and in public.  Repent to those who you've offended and do it as quickly as possible.  Paul's instruction to husband's and wives to "not let the sun go down on their anger" is no less instructive for any other relationship.  We are also told to not let bitterness grow and if we are repentful at all times this will be like spraying round up weed killer on the growth's in our soul. 
     If we allow the Spirit to continually fill us and we walk in Him, we are promised that we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh!  That is an awesome and perfect promise.  If we are in Him we CANNOT sin.  Only in ourselves can we fall into sin, especially the public sin of hypocrisy.  We can do this friends!  I mean, He can do this, if we allow Him! 
     God Bless you and learn, live and love the Gospel!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hi, My Name is Chris and I'm a Hypocrite

     "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.  For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward," Matt. 6:5.
     Nothing gets more mileage in our age than whenever a Christian stands up for righteousness they are scolded for their imperfection and called a hypocrite.  Truly, this is a most deserving charge because we are all sinners and we have all fallen far short of God's glory.  But, while this charge may be true in its most general sense , it still fails as a real effective argument against man's sin and depravity in the light of God's holiness and judgment.  Speaking for most of the Christians I know, we do not believe that we are completely holy vessels and the perfect embodiment of righteousness on this earth.  My sin is ever present before me and I make no pretense of perfection.  If Jesus is saying that only perfect people can pray in public and preach righteousness and repentance than we have some major problems!  What exactly is Jesus saying here?
     First, lets look at the word hypocrite.  The sense that Jesus has in mind here is that the person praying(more than likely a scribe or Pharisee per chapter 23) is just playing a part.  In the Greek it has in mind an actor, someone who is wearing a mask and concealing his/her identity.  You may have seen pictures of the iconic image of Greek theater which show two masks, side by side, one laughing and the other crying both with contorted faces.  The hypocrite is someone who is saying something he does not even believe, like he is reading from a script.  As a friend said the other day, "They(hypocrites) speak with no intent."  So Jesus is telling us that a hypocrite is a phony believer who is acting like a real believer.
     So we know who hypocrites are, actors and what they do, play a part, but why do they do it?  "That they may be seen by others."  Do you ever watch those horrific award shows or reality TV?  These are mostly people who want to be seen by others.  They love themselves and have copious amounts of self esteem.  They are narcissistic to the core.  As Christians, we must of all people guard against this.  We must make sure that we are humble before God and seek His glory not our own.  We must not be seekers of self esteem and want the applause of others even if we have been in labor for the cause of Christ.  Do we really labor for the cause of Christ if we are offended if our names aren't mentioned or we don't get a ribbon for our service?  I often find my thoughts drifting towards vain glory and I must repent of them or my heart will start to rot.  Even our deeds of generosity need to be veiled as Jesus stated in the verses previous to this.  How many foundations and charities are named for people and they use their charity as an advertising tool or marketing gimmick.
    Finally, what does Jesus say about those, Christian or not, who even do the best of deeds to be seen by men?  They have their reward.  The actor who gushes over a golden statue(calf): he has his reward.  The narcissist who plays the fool in front of the whole world to win some money or fame: they have their reward.  The person who professes Christ and does not realize his own depravity and prays for the applause of men: he has his reward and Jesus will say to him, "Away from Me, you worker of lawlessness."  The cure for hypocrisy is surrender.  We need to walk the narrow road that all prisoners who have lost a battle must walk.  A prisoner must never walk along the wide road, he will be roughly disciplined for that.  He must walk the narrow road, single file, eyes forward, one step before the other, looking at his Master for his next step.
     Live, learn and love the glorious Gospel of our blessed Savior!