September 8, 2018
In November, people of all over the nation will elect individuals to serve in Congress, the State Houses, and other political positions. The American people will be deluged with television ads which are primarily intended to show that the person running opposite them is a hypocrite. The amount of money that will be spent by the candidates, and their political parties, may set a record as the most amount spent for any mid-term election in the history of the country. It seems like a lot of money for the purpose of convincing people that an individual should not receive someone’s vote because the candidate is a hypocrite. The result of this atmosphere will leave a lot of people frustrated with the entire political process, even to the point of some not wanting to participate in it at all. It also points out our society’s disdain for people who say one thing and do the other, speak out of both sides of their mouth, or vacillate from one position to another.
As Christians, there is a lesson to be learned here as it relates to fulfilling our role as believers. Consider the reasons people give for not wanting to go to church, or not to become a Christian. Probably the number one reason given is the hypocrisy that people see in Christians, which leads them to conclude, “If that is what Christianity is all about then I don’t want any part of it.” In Matthew 6:1 Jesus said, “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, or worship 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 a hypocrite. Jesus warns us not to do them to be noticed by other people, but as Christians we should do these things for the glory of God. People evaluate believers every day as to their motivation and consistency in their Christian walk, and are quick to point out those times when Christians seem to be requiring something from them that they are not practicing themselves.
In Matthew, Jesus gives several practical examples of what our motivations should be for doing good works. For instance, He points out the responsibility in caring for people with needs. Jesus was warning them 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 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 parents recognize when a teacher pours their life into a student out a heart of love and concern, with no desire for recognition. I believe that God will reward all of those countless hours a teacher gives that no one ever knows about.
Another example that Jesus gave in this passage, and maybe one that we have great opportunities to practice here at school and in our homes, 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 own family and with our students is available literally every day. Whether it is forgiving someone who disrespects us, or someone who offends us, or an individual who refuses to give us the benefit of the doubt, the opportunities are always there. At the end of the day it is not about what we do, it is about having the right motivation for what we do, because that is what is noticed by the people whom we influence, and it is what will influence them for Christ.
The politician who rises above the status quo and admits that their background is not perfect, will probably fare better with the voters at the end of the day. Christians who admit that they, like everyone else, are not perfect and need the forgiveness that Christ offers will likely be more effective in reaching others for Christ. The fact is there are hypocrites in all walks of life, not just in politics or the church. If we allow the hypocrisy of political rhetoric to cause us to step aside from the process, we will certainly have no voice in the solutions for the problems our country faces. If hypocrites stop someone from becoming a Christian or attending church, they face certain judgment from a just God. Someone once said, the church is not a perfect place, and if you find the perfect church you may not want to join it, because you may ruin it by your imperfection. What we need in politics, and in the Christian community as well, is a consistency and honesty in assessing ourselves just as we do others. Unlike politicians, believers are not campaigning to win, Christ has already defeated the opponent. Our responsibility is to share the Good News that Jesus alone can forgive our sins and give us the ultimate victory, eternal life in heaven with Him.