Psalm 51:3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
I like the KJV translation of this verse: For I acknowledge my transgressions: And my sin is ever before me.
I have been reading of late some of the comments, news articles, blogs, etc., of those who have a deep dislike for Christians, Christianity, and what they call the hypocrisy of the Church. One thing that has really stood out for me is the misuse of the word “hypocrisy”. I always understood the definition of hypocrisy to be not living or acting in the way you profess to be long term. Remember, long term, we will come back to that. I read recently a popular Facebook share that says, “Not going to church because of ‘hypocrites’ is like not going to the gym because of ‘out of shape people’.” At first I found that funny. Upon further thought, this type of statement even though true, may not help me much when trying to reach the faultfinder.
So what are the faultfinders observing? Two things come up for me: Integrity and missing the mark (which is how many scholars define sin). Again, I realize that we all have a level of hypocrisy in our lives (and if you looked into the lives of the faultfinders, then you would find it in their lives as well). And there are levels of hypocrisy in our churches. However, when looking into the lives of most Christians, long term (there it is), there is little hypocrisy and more issues around integrity and unwanted sin.
Integrity is basically walking your talk. The Crucible Project looks deep into integrity and helps us as men work on aligning our inside with our outside. Our actions should match our emotions. When we keep agreements, we are in integrity. When we make choices, they should line up with how we profess to live. So, in many cases, what is being called hypocrisy is really an issue of integrity. Many times I am out of integrity regarding my walk with Christ. This does not make me a hypocrite. Over the long term, I am in integrity more than I am out of integrity. I would argue that this is the case for most Christians.
Missing the mark is how many describe sin. God has a standard. He set laws in motion for humankind to live by. I don’t think God created His laws just for authority sake (even though He could if He wants, He’s God). God create us, He knows us; He knows what is best for us and our souls. That is why His laws are in place. When we violate one of God’s laws, we are missing the mark. When I disobey, I am missing the mark. The target is holiness and perfection. When I come up short, I have missed the mark. When shooting at a target, several things can come into play to miss the bull’s eye. I can be distracted, I can flinch, my sights can be off (I didn’t set them right to begin with), I can pull instead of squeeze the trigger, I don’t take into account the wind, etc. Living life in the kingdom is like this. Replace the shooting analogy with living in holiness. Can you see the factors that make you miss the mark? Unfortunately, the faultfinders see us miss the mark and label the miss as hypocrisy.
How do I live life around the faultfinder? First, I cannot become defensive. This is most difficult for me. I want to defend myself and my faith which I follow. However, I really need to listen to the faultfinder. This does not mean I have to agree with him/her, just listen. It also does not mean that his/her faultfinding is about me. I need to own what is true about me and work on being better in that area or blind spot. The rest can fall back on the faultfinder from which it has been projected onto me. All the while, I need to seek to understand where the faultfinder was wounded by the Christian/church-attender.
Secondly, as I made note of throughout Barriers to Truth, I must show love. I will not move the faultfinder any closer to Jesus without a loving relationship. I need to love him/her where he/she is in life. I must have a compassion and empathy for his her wound around Christian/moral people. He/she has encountered some sense of self-righteousness and possibly some hypocrisy in his/her past. To draw them closer, I must love.
Thirdly, and possibly most important, I must show them a different person than the ones he/she have encountered before. I must live the above verse: Admit my transgressions, keep my sin in front of me, out in the light where it has no power over me. Own my shortcomings instead hiding behind my condescending church mask. Live as a redeemed man who owes Christ my life for the price He paid for me. This does not mean I have to agree with the faultfinder. I just live what I profess to be and love like Jesus loved and recognize I deserve judgment. Then I can share the good news that Jesus redeems those who choose Him.
I can choose to battle and argue and continue to push away; or I can choose to create loving relationships and let The Holy Spirit guide me. This does not mean I do not stand up for my beliefs. I just don’t always have to swing the sword. I can stand on the truth and love like I’ve never loved before.
1. What has been your definition of hypocrisy?
2. Who did Jesus warn the most about hypocrisy?
3. What were the signs of hypocrisy in those who Jesus warned?
4. Explain in your own words the difference between hypocrisy, integrity, and missing the mark.
5. Where has your lack of integrity appeared like hypocrisy?
6. How have you handled the faultfinders in the past?
7. This week, reflect on question #6. What changes can you make moving forward from where you are now?
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