Ever known someone who on the outside proclaimed “goodness” and “service” and was a basic all-around “do-gooder” but in their off-time you knew them to be secretly a swindler, apathetic in their home, and an all around a lazy person? Maybe even said person is a professed Christian yet hates his brother and has animosity towards his/her family?
Maybe you know someone like this, or know of someone like this. We all could think of someone in the past (whether your own history, or history at-large) who’s claimed Christianity but’s been an extortioner in one way or another.
Jesus calls it “hypocrisy”. It’s defined (by Google) as:
“The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.”
we see in Matthew 23:13 a very controversial statement to the religious people of his day, claiming “favor” with God by all their “good works” and “alms and prayers”.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” ~Jesus
In the rest of Chapter 23 Jesus makes many more radical statements toward the hypocrites in his day.
One question though: Who would He say that to now? The guy on TBN? Your next-door neighbor? You?
By that definition (or you can just read it) Jesus was saying the Pharisee’s and Scribes were not practicing what they preached, they used people and were self-righteous, finding their favor with men, not with God. Where else do we find this? The next verse in 1st John in my little study of it. (click here to check out the last one)
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” ~1st John 2:9-11
That really goes along the lines of what I just wrote. You claim to be a believer yet you hate your brother and have animosity toward him? And as we’ve discussed before, this doesn’t mean show a fake “love” for your family to gain God’s approval. Jesus went to the problem when he said “love the Lord your God with all your heart” (Matt 22:37).
So loving God with all our hearts is shown through loving Him and our neighbors (which includes our brothers) from the inside out (from the heart), not merely just the outside.
So we come to fork in the road. “I don’t have it in me to love these people! So how can I love my neighbor?”
That’s a very important thought. The real question is: “where does my genuine love come from?” We must remember this: genuine love for God and others is not an attitude generated by ourselves.
After all, we’re desperately sinful and in need of a savior, unable to save ourselves (Rom 3:23, Jer 17:9). So our love has to be an outpouring of our security and gratefulness in God’s love in forgiving us despite of our desperate wickedness.
God chose to draw and save you despite knowing every thought, word, and deed you have and will ever commit. And to add icing on the proverbial cake, you’re completely unable to save yourself without him. He effects the change in your heart to love him.
We need to surrender and ask Him to renew our minds as we study His word and apply it. Ask Him to help us to love someone unlovable, ask Him to change our hearts to love Him more each day, which will in turn pour out to others in genuine love.
That is a miracle that you could never muster enough strength to do by yourself. We need God for everything. He keeps our hearts beating. Without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
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