We have reached the end of our Winter Bible Study. We have covered the middle section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ first public teaching of his disciples. We have learned many things but this week’s lesson hits us right at home, don’t be something we are not. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We have heard the word hypocrite and even thought it or used it but have we really explored the meaning? Hypocrite- 1) a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion 2) a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
We all have said or done things that don’t reflect how we truly feel. We all feel we have justified reasons to act that way. The fact is we should be honest and truthful. Our actions should agree with our words. People should be able to expect that we, as Christians, will give them the right guidance; that we are what we profess to be.
Life is full of misleading statements and actions, we need to pay attention. People trying to figure out or manipulate the discussions to achieve a certain outcome. You might think the world is made up of “Gordon Ramsays” the way we stir the pot. We really don’t know what is going on until the dust settles.
Well, it shouldn’t be that way when it comes to God. People shouldn’t wonder if what they are seeing and hearing is the real thing. They should be able to trust that someone who claims to know God and represents Him is doing just that.
I cringe when I see some of the stuff on television that is passed off as Christianity. There are people that have no interest in representing God, just lining their pockets with cash from people who have trusted them. It happens across all walks of life, the con men who extract people’s hard-earned money with a slick sounding story. I don’t like when that happens, especially when God is the reason used, it irks me to the core of my being. This life is challenging enough and making the effort to help people through life, showing them what God has for them, would be easier without these hypocrites muddying up the water.
I have to say though, this is not a problem that developed with the television age. Jesus had the same issue with the same type of people. He used terms like “brood of vipers” and “den of thieves”. He overturned the tables in the temple that had made a mockery of the Temple. It was the one thing that Scripture reveals made him truly angry.
How do we feel when someone takes advantage of us? How do we feel when we cannot trust someone? We all have been on the receiving end of dishonesty. Some of us have been on the giving end. Our last lesson taught us that we have to honor God and be true to Him. We need to set our own wants and desires aside.
Matthew 6:1-3; “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.
“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. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus helps us understand an important principle, God Knows! We think we can hide things from God and He won’t know. Not going to happen, God knows. The fact is that nothing is hidden from God. We need to learn and understand that because in each one of our lives there are things we would rather God didn’t know. We have a name for them, they are called sin, missing the mark.
God gives us an out thought. Do this, go to God right now and ask for forgiveness. Let God remove the burden of our sin and restore our usefulness to him. Then make every effort to live in a way that will honor God.
We find it comforting and encouraging hearing others tell us how good we are. We like it when people recognize what we have said and done. We need a certain bit of that, but we cannot let it become the motivation for what we do. Too many times we tell people what they want to hear or at least what we think they want to hear, instead of the truth because we want a positive and affirming reaction. The root of this teaching again resides in our heart, what motivates us?
Jesus said don’t be motivated by what me says or how they respond. If we are, we will receive our reward from man. Instead, be motivated to please God and then our reward will come from heaven.
Let me ask you, who can give greater gifts, man or God? I think we all would agree that the creator of the universe, the one who knitted you together in your mother’s womb, the one who set the stars in place, the one who has the hairs on your head counted, has greater gifts to give. Then why do we settle for second best? Instant gratification; we want it now. Trust me in this; if we wait on God’s timing the blessing will far exceed anything we can attain here on earth.
We need to remember who we serve. We need to remember who paid the price for our salvation. We need to remember whose blood bought us out of death’s hand. We need to remember…
John 3:16-17; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Thank you for letting me spend some time with you exploring this passage of Scripture. Believe me when I say, we have only scratched the surface. We need to spend much more time in God’s Word and with each other learning more and more. I encourage you to find a place where you can do that. Find a Bible Study group, someplace where you can sit with other Christians and get to know God better.
We have covered many topics over the last few weeks and I am sure there are some questions. If you have questions let me know and I will make every effort to address them. If they would benefit others, I’ll share them here, without names, if you prefer. That way we can learn from each other.
Next week we will begin our look at the most amazing weekend in the history of the World; Easter. What does it mean and how can we respond to what Christ has done for us?