You don’t have to read the Gospels very long to see that Jesus got fired up about hypocrisy, whether it be the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, the numerous run-ins with Jewish religious leaders (ex. – Mark 12:15), or the seven “woes” of Matthew 23.
Every Christ follower has heard the criticism “The church is full of hypocrites!” I don’t really see that. What I see mostly is sincere people trying and failing, and trying again. That is not hypocrisy. A hypocrite is a person who says, “I am this and I am that” but they are not and don’t really care they are not. Jesus said, “They honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”
We all have some inconsistencies in our lives because none of us have arrived. I know what it’s like to preach on forgiveness and struggle to forgive someone who hurt me. Or to exhort people to put their family first, and yet say ‘yes’ to too many things that put them on the back burner. I know what it’s like to neglect the spiritual disciplines and see my soul grow parched.
What we must never do is harden our hearts to God’s call for repentance, humility and reconciliation. Nothing will shrivel your soul faster than the acceptance of hypocrisy in our lives. We need to root it out and bring it to the cross in repentance, and get the message to get genuine.
Author/Pastor James MacDonald wrote an awesome prayer called ‘I Want to be Real.’ Good to pray this regularly.
I WANT TO BE REAL
I want to be real. I don’t want to force it or fake it or fix it after the fact…I just want to be real.
I want to operate from truth, not from pressure to please or perform for people. I don’t want to choose from fear of what others will think of me or of my motives. I want to choose what I know is right because it’s good and because it pleases the Lord…Help me, God. I want to be real.
I have the information mostly. I know I’m supposed to read and pray, and I know about worship too. I’m supposed to witness and work for the kingdom, and I know about loving others more than myself. Oh, yeah, I know all the stuff. I know nearly everything I’m supposed to know, and most of all, I know that knowing is not enough because it doesn’t displace the denial in my heart…Help me, God. I want to be real.
By real, I mean ready, filled with anticipation when I arrive at Your house to worship You, heartfelt worship. Yeah, that‘s real.
By real, I mean ready with thanks for the cascade of blessings raining down on my head in this and every moment, genuine gratitude. Yeah, that’s real.
By real, I mean an easy choice of obedience to silence my demanding flesh that calls me to choose what you lovingly forbid, obedient holiness. Yeah, that’s real.
By real, I mean ready to be generous to people in need, not hoarding or hiding or helping out of guilt. Yeah, giving freely and continuously. That’s real for sure…Help me, God. I want to be real.
My choice is to be real, to be authentic down to the core of my soul, which will change me forever. I don’t want to pose; I don’t want to posture. I don’t need a pat on the head or a slap on the back. I’m not looking for applause. I want to be real.
(from pages 207-208 in 10 Choices by James MacDonald)