Christian Living

Spiritual Life

God Wants our Hearts

Jesus and his Father can't stand hypocrisy. Therein lies much of the world's problem. Therein lies much of my problem, too. How about you? Think about hypocrisy....falsehood....deceit....showing off....self concern. The opposite is truthfulness, at all times in everything. So let's all together say, "Ugh!"

I'm back up near my roots today, looking out over the wooded Green Mountains. As I've told you ad nauseam, I grew up in Maine -- or more truthfully I lived from age 10 to 24 in Maine; you could get some strong debate as to whether I've ever grown up, in Maine, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Virginia or anywhere else. But as I look out over the horses, the cows, the pigs, the sheep, I fantasize over the reserve, integrity, and decency attributed to New Englanders. I want to be like that. But, you know what? With television, broad education, and new levelers like the computer and Internet, people are pretty much the same around the world today. Hypocrisy and lawlessness run high. I think it's at the core of our strife, unhappiness, disease, wars, meanness, hatred and suicide. We aren't honest and pure in our dealings with God, let alone one another.

A lot of the unequivocal words about hypocrisy are found in some well known passages of the New Testament, and the subject runs throughout Holy Scripture. In words leading up to a discussion of how to pray, Jesus says, "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1, RSV). Note he didn't say not to be pious before men, but not to do it in order to be seen.

The next verse says a similar thing: "When you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets that they may be praised by men." The same with praying: "Don't stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners" for the purpose of being "seen by men."

For something other than prayer or alms note Matthew 15:8, where Jesus quotes Isaiah as having spoken truly: "This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the precepts of men." Cast an eye at the national Episcopal Church, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and others for a fascinating display of this. They waste dreadful time wrestling over the worst issues known to man -- homosexuality, same-sex marriage (which is practiced here in Vermont, believe it or not), the "real Jesus," total immersion in indiscriminate multiculturalism to the scornful degradation of orthodox Christinaity, and liberal, socialistic politics.

I pray you see in all this rambling God's wholehearted concern for our hearts, our attitudes, our responses to him -- in everything. He can't stand hypocrisy!

God doesn't want our prayers, our money, our avalanches of "toys" and other goods unless we are willing to give our lives to him. He wants our love and dedication, all of it. His great desire is for us to respond to him. He gave us himself. He initiated the way out of man's quagmire. He initiates, we respond. For instance, he says, "Come, follow me," then he gives us the power to follow him, and the giving never runs down.

After praying in the Spirit just now, I have this word for the three young men in Kansas embarking on an Internet venture tomorrow: "God has given you the way to proceed, but he wants you, all three, first. You know you can't go forward successfully without him. People think you're Generation Xers, and you are, but your heart is ready for tying into eternity, just like the days of earlier centuries. You must act now. Amen."

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