But Hypocrites We’re Not

Actor's Mask held in hand, hypocrite

We get stronger by lifting others up. The words on my friend’s shirt caught my eye, and I mentioned it.

Yeh, John looked at it and said, “Really?”

My friend is not a hypocrite for wearing that shirt even if her “domestic encouragement” lapses — even if she’s not constantly lifting, as on mother eagle’s wings, her entire family up. I’m not a hypocrite when I join the meeting because I gave my word, even when when something better came along. And you’re not a hypocrite when you smile at me, I tell my sons, even if you don’t feel the love.

Fake it till you make it might be more right than you think.

Hypocrites Are We. Or Not.

Don’t get me wrong—there are hypocrites inside the church and there are hypocrites outside the church and the best argument for Christianity is Christians and the best argument against Christianity is Christians—hypocritical Christians. Jesus saved his most scathing words for hypocrites. See Matthew 23. (Extra credit if you can count how many woes Jesus pronounced on hypocrites.)

Like this woe, in Matthew 23: 25, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

But this post isn’t to pronounce woes on hypocrites. It is to correct one misunderstanding about hypocrites. Because we might get confused and think we’re hypocrites when we’re not. And it’s hard to grow up and mature when we’re mixed up and confused.

So what exactly is this word “hypocrite”?

What is a Hypocrite?

The Greek word, hupokrites, from which comes our English word hypocrite means a play actor. In ancient Greece, hypocrites literally put on masks to play the various parts. A hupokrites is someone who pretends to be something that he is not. He plays the part.

Hypocrites profess to believe one thing but actually live a completely different way. For example, if you are a vegetarian spokesman who eats a burger every lunch, you are a hypocrite. If you are an opponent of alcohol and you drink a bottle every night or if you’re a force for family values who enjoys strip clubs on the weekend, you’re a hypocrite.

Those are blatant examples of pretenders whose aim is to look good and get applause. Hypocrites might be slaves to praise.

More Natural, More Hypocritical?

But too often Christians confuse hypocrisy. And whenever we do, it’s to our loss. We lose confidence, and we feel shame. Or, more dangerous still, we may feel emboldened to sin because it feels more natural, less hypocritical.

Here’s what I mean. In Galatians chapter 5, Paul wrote, For the flesh craves what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, so that you do not do what you want.

It’s a duel till the death between the Spirit and the flesh.

Which means that when my friend wore the Lift Others Up shirt, even though as her husband teased, she didn’t always to live up at home, this was not hypocrisy. Rather, she was a fallen human living out the battle. She shrugged, I wear the shirt to remind me to live it out. When I sent birthday wishes to someone who annoyed me, this was not hypocrisy. It is the Spirit in me.

Now you try it. Fill in the blanks:

When I [pray, say kind words, or do acts of service] for [someone who hurts, annoys, disappoints me], this is not hypocrisy, it is love.

No doesn’t that feel good?

Hypocrisy Or Maturity?

Hypocrisy is not when we do one thing but feel another. That is not hypocrisy.

Hypocrites publicize one set of beliefs but live by a different set of beliefs. When you come to church but you don’t feel like it, that’s not hypocrisy. That’s faithfulness. When you do the right thing in your marriage even when you don’t feel in love, that’s fidelity. 

And I underscore this because I’ve heard this before, as a pastor, “Well, Pastor, I would be a hypocrite to stay in this marriage because I’m not in love anymore.” Or “I would be a hypocrite, Pastor, to give to the offering when I don’t feel like doing so.” God loves a cheerful giver, as you’ve heard me say before. Yes, He does, so keep on giving until you’re happy. 

Listen very carefully, doing what is right when you don’t feel like doing what is right is not hypocrisy, it’s maturity.

Kevin DeYoung, “The Lord’s Prayer: When You Pray

God wants his kids to grow up. So send the note to the annoying friend (he may already have sent one to you). Do the deed when you don’t feel like it. Pray for your enemies. Love on.

It’s the nature of life in a tent. We must fight our sinful flesh and selfish feelings (Romans 8:13) and even still, we will fall (Proverbs 24:16). This makes us strugglers and sometimes sufferers and only proves again that we’re sinners who daily need the Gospel to free and empower and forgive.

But it does not make us hypocrites.

So while we are in this tent, we groan under our burdens, because we do not wish to be unclothed but clothed, so that our mortality may be swallowed up by life.

2 Corinthians 5:4

If: What Do You Know of Calvary Love?

gong, without love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3

From Subtle Love of Softening Things…Deliver Me

I “met” Amy Carmichael in my teens one summer afternoon in a cramped trailer home that housed a Christian library I so loved. Amy wasn’t soft. Read her poems—like Make Me Your Fuel, Flame of God— and you’ll see it.

As a missionary serving woman and children in India she didn’t cow to the elite who wanted their temple slaves back. Nor did Amy pull no her punches when it came to teaching converts to follow Christ.

Amy wasn’t soft, but she was loving. And not soft-pedal-the-truth loving, but holding-out-truth-in-love loving. I ran into her poem IF, last week, in my Bread And Wine reading for Lent. And one of my JoyPrO goals is to share with you what strengthens me.

Amy’s “If’s” do. But her if’s are not meant to be read one after another. In her introduction to the book simply titled, “If,” Amy Carmichael writes,

Perhaps only one “If” will have the needed word.

But if one does, I say, then run with the one. Feel the conviction, let Christ’s love control you.

And if you’re like me and 21 “ifs” ring true, well then, back to the cross. He came, He died, He rose for these.

If

If I have not compassion on my fellow)servant even as my Lord had
pity on me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak
in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If I find myself half-carelessly taking lapses for granted, “Oh, that’s
what they always do,” “Oh, of course she talks like that, he acts like
that,” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight
another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If, in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain, and
slip from under the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot bear to be like the father who did not soften the rigors of
the far country; if, in this sense, I refuse to allow the law of God (the
way of transgressors is hard) to take effect, because of the distress it
causes me to see that law in operation, then I know nothing of Calvary
love.

If my attitude be one of fear, not faith, about one who has disappointed
me; if I say, “Just what I expected,” if a fall occurs, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If I cast up a confessed, repented, and forsaken sin against another, and
allow my remembrance of that sin to color my thinking and feed my
suspicions, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I have not the patience of my Saviour with souls who grow slowly; if
I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully
formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I cannot keep silence over a disappointing soul (unless for the sake of
that soul’s good or for the good of others it be necessary to speak),
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can hurt another by speaking faithfully without much preparation of
spirit, and without hurting myself far more than I hurt that other, then
I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am afraid to speak the truth, lest I lose affection, or lest the one
concerned should say, “You do not understand,” or because I fear to
lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the
other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am content to heal a hurt slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” where is
no peace; if I forget the poignant word “Let love be without
dissimulation” and blunt the edge of truth, speaking not right things
but smooth things, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I fear to hold another to the highest goal because it is so much easier
to avoid doing so, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I am soft to myself and slide comfortably into the vice of self-pity and
self-sympathy; if I do not by the grace of God practice fortitude, then I
know nothing of Calvary love.

If I myself dominate myself, if my thoughts revolve round myself; if I
am so occupied with myself I rarely have “a heart at leisure from itself,”
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF, the moment I am conscious of the shadow of self crossing my
threshold, I do not shut the door, and in the power of Him who works
in us to will and to do, keep that door shut, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place (or the twentieth);
if I cannot take the first without making a fuss about my unworthiness,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not give a friend “the benefit of the doubt,” but put the worst
construction instead of the best on what is said or done, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool
unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.*
*For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter
water however suddenly jolted.

If I feel injured when another lays to my charge things that I know not,
forgetting that my Sinless Saviour trod this path to the end, then I
know nothing of Calvary love.

If I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me,
unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself they would
condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I say, “Yes, I forgive, but I cannot forget,” as though the God who
twice day washes all the sands on all the shores of all the world, could
not wash such memories from my mind, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If interruptions annoy me, and private cares make me impatient; if I
shadow the souls about me because I myself am shadowed, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If souls can suffer alongside, and I hardly know it, because the spirit of
discernment is not in me, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I become entangled in any “inordinate affection”; if things or places
or people hold me back from obedience to my Lord, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If something I am asked to do for another feels burdensome; if,
yielding to an inward unwillingness, I avoid doing it, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; if I cannot
rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; if I love to be
loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve, then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If I want to be known as the doer of something that has proved the
right thing, or as the one who suggested that it should be done, then I
know nothing of Calvary love.

If I do not forget about such a trifle as personal success, so that it never
crosses my mind, or if it does, is never given a moment’s room there;
if the cup of spiritual flattery tastes sweet to me, then I know nothing
of Calvary love.

If it be not simple and a natural thing to say, “Enviest thou for my sake?
Would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets,” then I know
nothing of Calvary love.

If in the fellowship of service I seek to attach a friend to myself, so that
others are feel unwanted; if my friendships do not draw
others deeper in, but are ungenerous (to myself, for myself), then I
know nothing of Calvary love.

If I slip into the place that can be filled by Christ alone, making myself
the first necessity to a soul instead of leading it to fasten upon Him,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If my interest in the work of others is cool; if I think in terms of my
own special work; if the burdens of others are not my burdens too, and
their joys mine, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I wonder why something trying is allowed, and press for prayer that
it may be removed; if I cannot be trusted with any disappointment, and
cannot go on in peace under any mystery, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows
hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of
Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the Cross, then I
know nothing of Calvary love.

THAT WHICH I KNOW NOT, TEACH THOU ME, O LORD, MY GOD.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;

And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and was raised again.…

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Gone Fishin’

Let another praise you and not your own mouth; 

a stranger and not your own lips. 

Proverbs 27:2


Modesty is the only sure bait when you are fishing for praise. -Lord Byron

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all. -1 Thessalonians 5:14


If you fish for compliments and angle for praise, this post is for you. If you love an angler, it’s for you, too.

Did you find that gift I left?  I asked Liz, sheepish. 

It had been three months since I delivered the gift, a family read aloud. Our boys had loved the Easter adventure and I hoped Liz’s kids would too. But I hadn’t heard from my friend. Had they started reading it, or even found it?
We know as Christians we’re to give expecting nothing in return. We know if we give to be seen by men, we have received our reward in full. We know that the Father sees the hidden gifts, and that our reward is heaven.
We know. We get it. And sometimes we’re weak.

My last post was a tribute to praise. It was in praise of the pleasure we feel when we aim to please another and do. It was also a call to heed Proverbs 31:30 because A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

But it was a guarded, wary praise because love of human praise can enslave. Praise can turn idol. What we worship becomes our God. Inordinate desire for praise leads us to sacrifice at that altar. 

Even with those distinctions, a niggling question remains: 

Is it ever okay to fish for a compliment?

The subject still strikes a nerve. Last month, our ladies’ life group split right down the middle. Never, said some. How will you know unless you ask, said others. You’ve received your reward, came the reply. What about “Help the weak”? another asked. 

Where do you fall? Do you ever find yourself biting your tongue and wondering, Didn’t they noticeDoes he have a clue how hard I worked to put that meal together? Does she know what I gave up to watch the kids? 
We itch and sometimes we can’t resist scratching. So we fish for compliments and angle for thanks. I’ve been there, and truth be told, I return from time to time. Ask my husband and Liz-if you must.
Some of us shake our heads, and roll our eyes at the vanity, the weakness. We’re not so needy as to fish in those waters. We’re strong and confident and our praise is in heaven.

Not so fast, you eye-rollers. C.S. Lewis lets us in on a little secret about the anglers among us:  

The vain person wants praise, applause, admiration, too much and is always angling for it. It is a fault, but a child-like and even (in an odd way) a humble fault. It shows that you are not yet completely contented with your own admiration. You value other people enough to want them to look at you (Mere Christianity, Book III, ch. 8).

Weakness is not sin. In Greek, weak– asthenēs is also translated sick, infirm, feeble. It’s used in Matthew 25 when Jesus was asked, When did we see you sick, or in prison or thirsty? It’s used in Acts 5 when the sick were brought that Peter might heal them and in Romans 5, When we were still without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 

A friend and fellow blogger wrote about her struggle, her weakness to wean from man’s praise as she adjusted to stay at home status: 

The grades, awards, and stellar performance appraisals at work fed me. They told me I was worth something, that I contributed meaningfully. As SAHMs [Stay At Home Moms], we don’t get this regular feedback. Well, we get feedback, but it generally doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves. We get tantrums and turned up noses at dinner. 

So what do we do in the interim? …When I really need someone to tell me I’m doing a good job, I ask for it. People cannot read my mind. When I need reinforcement, I ask, “Did you like dinner? Did you notice I scrubbed the floors? How do they look?” Yes, this is fishing, but it helps. When I’m feeling desperate, it gives me the pat on the back I need to feel like my day was worth something.

But, as I mature, my dependence on these kudos wains.

I love her honesty. My friend Jess admits her fishing is a desperate measure, borne of weakness. But she’s maturing in Christ. She’s growing in faith. And growth means less dependence on man’s praise.

Both weaning and growth are gradual. But, we can help each other grow up in the faith. We are called to present each other mature in Christ. To that end, I offer these tips.

For fellow anglers:

1. Pray.
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24) Ask the Spirit to convict you if your fishing is borne of pride or greed for praise.  

2. Then wait. 
The Lord is good to those who wait for him (Lamentations 3:25). Wait and wait until it hurts; longer than you thought you possibly wait. Then, baited in humility, go fish. Realize you might not catch. She might not like the gift, he might not care for your cooking. Be meek, ready to “take no.” 

3. Remember.
If you catch your compliment, you’ve had your reward. If you get the praise now, you forfeit the righteous reward later. And even if you do land a big one, remember, It is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the LORD commends (2 Corinthians 10:18).

Non-anglers, you’re not off the hook. You’ve got some responsibility, too. Sanctification is a community project.

For you who love us anglers:


1. Help the weak, be patient with all (1 Thessalonians 5:14). 
Take the bait. How well-chosen words can nourish a weak soul. One son needed a little extra praise to get over his double-digit borrowing hump. He got bigger ‘atta boy’s and more feedback than the stronger student. Go out of your way to praise the good done in fear of God and love for man. 

2. Strengthen his hand in God
That’s what Jonathan did when David needed encouragement. Try to tie your praise to God’s promised blessings for those who keep his way. It might sound like, That is good of you to open your house. Your hospitality pleases God (Hebrews 13:16).

3. Help the weak, be patient with all. 
Resist the bait. Sometimes silence may be better help. If you discern that’s a better help. If you discern flattery on your part, or greed for praise on his part, help by withholding. Jesus did. Martha, Martha, you are concerned over many things, he said. But Mary has chosen the better.  

*     *     *     *     *
Yes, we press on into maturity. We wean ourselves from man’s praise so that one day we’ll receive that eternal weight of glory, that far outweighs them all. We lift up the drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees. 

We train and deny ourselves, we wait until it hurts.Then in weakness, we fish if we must. Our God knows our frame; he remembers we are dust. So he sent one who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. 

When a weak angler comes fishing on our shores, let’s stop shaking our heads and offer some help. A little slap on the back can go a long way. This side of glory we are His hands.

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 

-Paul, to the Colossians