Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sincere Faith- the Opposite of Hypocrisy

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
My two boys and I were discussing proper table manners before going out to lunch with my friend. They were not happy that I requested, “No technology at the table while we were eating.” To help them understand my rule, I explained that it was rude and disrespectful to the people at the table. Then my youngest, John said, “But mom you do it.” Ugh! I had been caught red-handed. He’s right. I’ll sit at the table and check the weather or if my husband and I are having a discussion and need to look up a fact, one of us will pull out a phone to look things up. When I am out to lunch with a friend I’ll happily pull out my phone to show them a picture. I’ll even keep my phone on the dinner table if I am expecting a call. My son called me out on my double standard because intrinsically he knew that there was something wrong with my hypocrisy.
My eight-year- old pointed out one of those great inconsistencies of life, we’ll often tell someone the right thing to do and then not do it ourselves. We excuse our hypocrisy with a mental explanation that somehow our situation is different and therefore it is okay to use our cell phone at the table, not wash our hands or talk behind someone’s back. We make excuses for these small things but are upset by doctors who smoke, police who break the law, and ministers of the Gospel who act in ungodly ways. In fact, hypocrisy at any level is offensive unless we are the ones being hypocritical.
One of the greatest criticisms of Christians is that they don’t practice what they preach. In Embracing Change Learning to Trust God from the Women of the Bible is a chapter about Lois, a remarkable grandmother who stood out in her community as a woman of sincere faith.[1] Paul wrote to Timothy that he was “reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”[2] The Greek word for "sincere" in this verse means "anti- hypocritical." Greek society was a place of wearing a mask and being hypocritical was typical.   Though she was surrounded by hypocrisy, Lois was a woman of integrity who lived out her faith in such a way that those around her including her daughter and Scripture to her daughter and grandson. Genuine sincere faith draws people to Christ but hypocritical faith repulses people.  Too often kids are turned off by the hypocrisy they see in their parents’ lives. Just as my son saw my cell phone hypocrisy, our kids know us better than anyone else. Our minister likes to say that “faith is caught, not taught.” If we want to leave a lasting legacy that stands the test of time, we have to live out our faith- one that is real and genuine- and in the process we will be passing down a real and genuine faith to our family and the other people that God brings into our lives.
As we live out our faith, not just in words but in actions, we have to begin by practicing our faith with our families and also bless the people around us. Please read how author Eugene Peterson paraphrases James 3:17-18 in The Message and makes this point about how we should live and love, “Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

How do you fight the battle against hypocrisy in your life?

[1] This blog is an excerpt from Embracing Change Learning to Trust God from the Women of the Bible Open Door Publishing Hendersonville NC 2016
[2] 2 Timothy 1:5

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