On paper it looks so simple. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). And “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). Should be easy, right?
It’s not like we have been burdened with the entire law under the old covenant, we’ve got it easy! There are no sacrifices, no ceremonial washing, no uncleanness for seven days. We even get BACON!!!
We’ve mastered the talk, so why is it so difficult to walk the walk? The heathen are right. The Church is overflowing with hypocrites! And I can say with Paul that “I am the foremost” among sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).
I’ve never shied away from airing my dirty laundry on this blog. I find it cathartic to expose my sins to the light of day. “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17). As I once told my son, I have made a lot of mistakes in life, and I am willing to share them all if he would learn from them. The same goes for you. I’m not so naive as to think that I am alone in my failures, but perhaps by discussing them you will also confront them in your own life.
Last night, while driving some old country back roads in search of a good location to photograph an imminent beautiful sunset, I misjudged the snow-covered shoulder. Quickly I found my truck buried in a deep, snow-filled ditch with two wheels on the road and leaning at a 45° angle to it. I was desperately close to rolling the truck. Impressively, I didn’t lose my composure. A nearby beef farmer provided me with relief, using his large tractor to pull me backwards out of the ditch. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I was. I thanked him profusely, especially when he wouldn’t take any money for his service. Then I thanked the Lord the whole way home.
That’s not the hypocritical part!
This morning on my way to work, still marveling at God’s grace and mercy, I refused to allow a car in the wrong lane to merge in front of me. At that moment I reasoned that, as a regular commuter on this road, he knew that he was in the wrong lane. He chose, just as I had done a few times in the past, to take a chance in the wrong lane hoping he could pass the cars he would have been behind had he queued in the correct lane.
Of course there is no justification for sin. I knew immediately that what I had done was wrong. I had not loved my neighbor nor treated him as I would like to be treated. At one moment I’m marveling at God’s mercy in freeing me from that ditch, and the next I’m refusing to show mercy to someone else who was stuck. HYPOCRITE!!!
But before we are too hard on ourselves, we are in pretty good company.
Abraham…hypocrite. Instead of exercising his trust in God he chose to tell Pharaoh that his wife was his sister because he feared he would kill him to take her (Genesis 12:10-20). And he didn’t learn his lesson, so he did it again with King Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-18)! To make matters even worse, he didn’t think it important to tell his sons. Isaac pulled a trick out of dad’s playbook calling his wife Rebekah his sister to the same King Abimelech (Genesis 26:1-16)!
And we can’t forget Peter. He swore that he was willing to die for Jesus, that he would never deny Him (Matthew 26:35). Yet that very night he denied Him three times, swearing that he did not know Jesus. He also was called out by Paul, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned” (Galatians 2:11). Peter ate with the Gentile believers until other Jews came, at which point he only ate with the Jews. He feared the Jewish believers who held that the Gentile believers should be circumcised. And his hypocrisy influenced others to do the same.
Paul was a hypocrite too. As I’ve touched on before in this blog, he wrote, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out (Romans 7:18).
The point is that we all act with inconsistency as regards our faith confession and our walk. This is not an excuse. Ever. Sin is sin, and we need to repent of it. Unfortunately that doesn’t make it any easier to live our lives in perfect conformity to our faith.
I’m not excusing my sin. I am exposing it. But once I have repented of my sin, I will not allow it to pull me down. And neither should you. What God has forgiven has been forgotten. When you fall, pick yourself up; brush yourself off; and follow Jesus. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are from the ESV.