November 4, 2019
An article written by Robert Valarde for Focus on the Family said, in regard to the impact of hypocrisy among believers, “Unfortunately, one obstacle to the acceptance of Christianity that is often raised, is provided by Christians themselves. Phrased in many ways, the core of the objection is, if Christianity is true, why are there hypocrites in the church?” The truth is, in the day and age we live in, news is transmitted instantaneously to the public the moment there is a gaffe or action that contradicts the message of Christianity by someone who represents Christianity. There is no place to hide for public exposure of hypocritical words or actions by those who represent the church or Christianity. Unfortunately, the level of scrutiny in our high-tech world has elevated the probability that a “Christian” not acting like a “Christian” will probably become a social media symbol as to why some people reject Christianity. In fact, the number one reason people give for not wanting to be a follower of Christ, is the hypocrisy that they see in Christians and so-called religious people.
In Matthew 6:1 Jesus warned us, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” As believers we should be careful not to go to church, pray, give, worship, or even attend a Christian school in order to impress people. If we do so, we are hypocrites. The principle Jesus is teaching in this verse is how we should practice our righteousness and religious acts without being hypocrites. Jesus warns us not to do good works just to be noticed by people, but as Christians we should do these things for the glory of God. Every day, people carefully evaluate all of us who claim to be Christians, as to our motivation and consistency in our Christian walk. They are quick to point out those times when we seem to be preaching something for others to follow, that we are not practicing ourselves. As believers we should consciously desire to practice our faith in a way that will influence people with the message of the Gospel.
In Matthew, Jesus gives several practical examples of what our motivations should be for doing good works. For instance, he points out the responsibility we have to care for people with needs. Jesus was warning us about helping the wrong way. In Matthew 6:2-4 he said, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” The way God receives the glory is found in verse 3. “Don’t let your right hand know what the left hand is doing.” This is an expression of secrecy, not of minimizing giving, even public giving. Practically speaking, it is about giving in a way that is between ourselves and God only. If we give where only God knows about it, we can’t boast or be proud. Here at school, our students recognize when a teacher pours their life into their work with a heart of love and concern, with no desire for recognition. I believe that God will reward all of the countless hours a teacher gives, that no one ever knows about. It is no different being a parent. Most of our children never realize until they are adults just how selfless a parent must be in sacrificing for their children, just because they love them.
Another example that Jesus gave, and maybe one that we have the opportunity to practice the most here at school, is the example of forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you. Your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Forgiveness is like a two-way street, if it is open to receive God’s forgiveness, it is open to forgive others. If it is closed in either direction it is closed to both and can affect our fellowship with God and with people and rob us of the joy of our salvation. The opportunity to practice this principle of forgiveness in front of our children and our families is available literally every day at home or here at school. Whether it is forgiving a person who disrespected you, or a co-worker who offended you, or a boss who didn’t seem to hear you out, the opportunities are clearly there.
At the end of the day, it is not necessarily about what we say, it is about having the right motivation for what we do for Christ. If our true motivation is to be obedient to God and follow the example of Christ in all we do, then our testimony for Him will be noticed by those we influence. More importantly, if our motivation is right and Jesus Christ is lifted up by the life we live, we will influence others to become followers of Christ and join us in His service.