Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Confronting Hypocrisy

Matthew 23:13-14

We live in a world that to a large degree is hypocritical and shallow. 

If we truly desire to follow God, then one of the first things we should do is meditate on the most important scripture passages every day. Pray that the Holy Spirit will make clear to you the things He wants you to do; and the changes He wants for you to make in your daily life.

So where should we start? 
I am convinced that Jesus would say: begin with the Ten Commandments. 

I realize that this raises questions, but hear me out.
I know what you might be thinking … “oh no, I want to focus on the teachings of Christ, not the laws of the Old.” Or maybe meditating on the law would be boring. 

But the truth is that what you or I think is best for us in the natural  ...
is of little value when growing in Christ is your goal.

This is another paradox principle. What we want to do is quite often the exact opposite of what God wants us to do to become the best we can be. 

Most importantly, Jesus does not want us to be hypocrites. 

The Apostle Paul explained this dilemma when he wrote:
   “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

I know this may not sound like the best way to spend your time, but in Truth God’s best for you and me is most often the opposite of the natural thing to do. The test is: how often do you meditate on God’s Word? When was the last time you really meditated on the Ten Commandments? Stopping and meditating on relevant convicting scripture is not easy for anyone to do. But unless we do it, the Holy Spirit is not likely to give us instruction, direction and encouragement.

Our natural tendency is to focus on the easy and encouraging scriptures that build us up, but not on principles that confront our personal failings and hypocrisy. But the truth is that when we are hypocritical, we know it in our heart, and this does not encourage but rather discourage. 

When we work to end hypocrisy in our life we are encouraged ...
as we experience victory over our failing ways.

Have you ever deeply considered why Jesus was attacked by the Pharisees? 
Why and what he did to bring this end result upon himself?

Well He continually confronted the hypocrisy of the religious leaders ...
and then He declared himself to be “I AM.”  The Creator God.

Most of us have never really thought about this much. His many miracles were the evidence that He presented to demonstrate the truth of His Identity. Jesus declared Himself to be the Creator God, and the religious leaders attempted to stone him and then they plotted to have him killed. John 8:1-58

Jesus despised hypocrisy, and especially from those who presented themselves to be deeply religious. In the verse above, he warmed them up by exposing their hypocrisy regarding Mary Magdalene. And then He hits them between the eyes with their hypocrisy on the commandments.

So how does all of this apply to you or me? When you meditate, concentrate deeply or study in depth … what are you supposed to learn about your personal hypocrisy? Ask God to reveal to you any hypocrisy in your life by His Word and the power of the Spirit ... and He will do it.

To meditate is to look more closely. What did Jesus do when He got more personal and looked deeper into the lives of the Pharisees? He referred them to the Ten Commandments. He spoke directly to their handling of one of their most personal relationships. Their parents.  Read: Mark 7:6-13

That’s right! He confronted the Pharisees with one of the Ten Commandments … and perhaps it was the easiest of the commandments to keep. Honor your father and mother. Think about it … if we choose not follow this one, how likely are you or me to take some of the other commandments seriously?

As I considered this personally, immediately my mother came to mind. She called for me the day before she went into a coma; but I was busy and I waited until after work that night to go see her. When I got there it was too late; and I was never able to speak to her again. This has haunted me since that day. The only positive encouragement I can find here is that unlike the Pharisees, my brother and I did provide housing and a new car for my parents in the years prior to their passing. Was this difficult for us to do? No not really, it was the natural thing for us to do. God provided for it.

As I search deeper into my personal experience, my son-in-law Neil Anderson immediately comes to mind. Once when Cheryl and I were on vacation, Casey and Neil stayed at our home and watched after our dogs. After a recent move, our garage had become filled to the point where we could not even park our car inside. Were we ever surprised when we returned home? Not only had Neil cleaned out our garage, but he built shelves to allow for us to store our stuff completely out of the way. This clearly did not take hours but rather ... days to complete. During more recent years, when I was overwhelmed with health, career, and financial problems. Neil came to my rescue by helping me to establish a new business. This is going above and beyond honoring your parents … in more ways than one. Neil is clearly the best son I could ever have hoped for.

Now does all of this imply that we should confront others in their hypocrisy? Well for sure if someone is a hypocritical  professing Christian. But also the Bible is clear: we must first take the log out of our own eye, and we do not want to be judgmental. 

But Jesus also makes it clear as it could be: Jesus despises religious hypocrisy and honoring our mother and father is the specific commandment that He used to make His point with the hypocrites. And He confronted them publicly with it.

The Apostle Paul gives us additional insight. “Brothers, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear you one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

Give it a try. Meditate on the Ten Commandments. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will make it clear to you the changes that He wants you to make, and how to be the loving person He wants you to be. 

How do you meditate? Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and insight. Pray over one commandment at time. Now listen ... God will speak to you. Don't stop until God speaks to you.

For each of us, Confronting Hypocrisy is a personal thing ... first and foremost.

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Listen to this one...   "I AM"

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