Over the years I have really grown to hate this word; hypocrite.
What does it mean to be a hypocrite? Who qualifies as a hypocrite? What are our hang ups when it comes to hypocrites in the church? Why do we so quickly point fingers at others to call them this, without acknowledging our own hypocrisy?
The very definition of the word, hypocrite, leaves me believing that absolutely every person on this earth has played the role of hypocrite more than once in their lives.
: a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion
: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
We are human beings who learn from our mistakes, sometimes after the first one, but often after many. And during that learning curve, people can sometimes see us stumbling.
What is it about our human nature that feels the need to point out others in their failures, faults, and stumbles, while we too struggle with our own battles? What is it about finding flaws in others that makes us feel better about ourselves?
On top of being flawed human beings, destined to make and even repeat mistakes, most of us are also human beings who do not wish to inform absolutely everyone of our mistakes, flaws, or internal struggles. Are we all living under false pretenses? Perhaps, to strangers or acquaintances who stumble upon our flaws, it would appear so. In reality, most of us are just trying our hardest to put our best foot forward. Most of us are trying to be the person we portray to the world, but still stumbling along the way.
One great example of groups of people who are constantly trying to do better, but often still stumbling, even while trying to help others, are support groups for addicts. When addicts stumble along their journey to sobriety, or have set backs, big or small, we call it a disease. Society tries to react with understanding as these people try over and over again to clean up their lives. We often applaud them for seeking the help that they need.
Listen, we are all born with a disease of the heart. We are all born with sin. Not a single one of us will ever, ever live a perfect life. People attend church and Bible studies, and even lead church or Bible studies in one way or another, still struggling with their own sin! We are not a group of perfect people, nor are we a group pretending to be perfect. We are a support group for sinners. The person who greeted you might be struggling with addiction. The person sitting next to you might be struggling with adultery. Just as an AA sponsor has a history, and might still have set backs, the very leaders of your church might be struggling in their own sin.
Pray for them!
We have it in our heads that our leaders are above the need for prayer, that our leaders have figured this all out already, that our leaders have a direct line to Jesus which we don't. FALSE! And when we put them on this pedestal of perfection, we are setting them up for a fall, not them. They didn't place themselves there. We did.
Think about this; what if we all wore our sins on a post-it note stuck to our foreheads? What if we were completely transparent with our faults? Would that make any of us less of a hypocrite? Maybe not.
But if we knew that we were walking around with our own mistakes visible for all to see, maybe we wouldn't be so quick to judge the mistakes of others.
When I began 2 weeks ago with Marvel at the Maker, I didn't know I would be doing a whole three-part series on being thankful, yet here we are! Last week we discussed what it means to have a grateful heart; being thankful for what God has already provided, no matter what else we might wish we had. We talked about how we shouldn't get wrapped up in the desires of the world, but what does that really mean? What does it mean to be truly thankful? What does it mean to have a thankful heart? What does God mean, saying that He will give us the desires of our hearts?
Let's explore that a little deeper.
This is actually so much simpler than many of us may realize, but let's be clear. This does not mean that God gives us whatever we want. Most of us have learned that already. Many of us have found ourselves in positions of crying out to God, desperately, for something that we really want in our lives, only to have that prayer go unanswered. I cannot be the first person to realize how much better off I was with those unanswered prayers. Man! Some of the things I asked for, especially in my youth, would not have been good for me! Even though my heart desperately wanted it at the time, God, in His infinite wisdom, knew better.
So many lines throughout Psalm 37 begin like this:
Trust in the Lord...
Delight yourself in the Lord...
Commit your way to the Lord...
trust in him...
Be still before the Lord...
Turn from evil and do good...
Wait for the Lord...
This isn't actually about our desires, is it? Not really. What happens when we delight ourselves in the Lord? What happens when we commit our ways to Him? Trust Him? Turn from evil?
When we do these things fully, we align our heart's desires to the will of the Lord. Our hearts become changed. Being given our heart's desire takes on a whole new meaning, once your heart aligns to God's will for your life. Our desire becomes to be in HIS will.
And what a glorious place that is to be!
Last week we discussed our inability to appreciate God's gifts when they are right in front of our faces. My point last week was about His creations, and how we take for granted the extraordinary beauty of this universe He created for us.
Similarly, we often live our lives, oblivious of His daily blessings. We often lament on what we do not have, rather than rejoice with what we do. For example, my family has kind of (most definitely) outgrown the town home in which we live. We often complain about a lack of space, lack of storage, tiny yard...and the list goes on and on; when not all that many years ago, this home is exactly the home we prayed for. How often we do this! We pray, we get what we want, and so quickly forget how God answered that prayer! We are so quick to become greedy and ungrateful, when LOOK! Look what God has done!
Last week, most of us heard about Build-a-Bear, and the deal (steal) they offered. They were hosting an event called Pay Your Age, in which your children could pay their own age for almost any stuffed animal in the store. For my family that would have meant $10, $9, $5, and $3; a total of $27 for four different toys and a fun experience for my children.
Unfortunately, my children have a very naive mom, who couldn't possibly imagine that people would begin standing in line for these bears, hours before the stores even opened. Silly me, I thought we could roll through around 11am, after my son's soccer camp, and have some fun. But by 11am the local stores, which had only been open for all of ONE hour, closed down entry for anyone else. There were people in line all day, many people in line for hours and still turned away.
Upon seeing this information on the website, my friend and I promptly turned to plan B. We grabbed some prepackaged lunches, and took the kids to a local playground, where instead of standing in a line all day, they had hours of fun. I then went home later that day, and downloaded my complimentary $15 coupon from the Build-a-Bear website to use for a later date. Would that deal have been nice? Yes! Taking all four of my children there to create their own toys, on a normal day, is not in our budget. It would have turned an otherwise unaffordable event, into a great memory with my kids. I don't fault anyone who wanted to get there early and wait in line to do that.
But, we made memories anyway. We had fun anyway. It was a gorgeous day with great company, and lots of laughter. What I found sad to see later that day though, were the amount of people who took to Build-a-Bear's social media pages to complain. I would speculate that the likelihood of them ever offering up this deal again, is slim to none. Adults behaved in such ungrateful ways, when this store was just trying to do a nice thing.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.
~1 John 2:15-16
It is difficult sometimes, in such a busy world, to not want more, to not desire more for our lives, our children's lives. And God does tell us to ask Him for our heart's desires. But maybe, just maybe, we need to better align our heart with Jesus, so that our heart's desires align with God's will, and not our own. Let's practice thankfulness for all that we have, patience for that which we're waiting, and faith in a God who knows exactly what we need.
I missed you guys last week! I'm very sorry that I didn't have a Monday Message ready for you, but we had a lot going on in preparation of our vacation, and family time took precedence.
As we have just returned from vacation, and are trying to get our lives back in order, I have a very brief message for you today about appreciation and gratefulness.
For vacation last week we went to my hometown area of North Central Pennsylvania. There are so very many little known towns in the rolling hills of Northern PA, and Southern NY. The town I grew up in had a population of approximately 1,500 while I lived there. My graduating high school class had only 31 students...and it was a public school. We had one traffic light in the center of town, and at 11pm every night, it changed from the standard red, yellow, or green, to blinking yellow. The town is almost exactly 1 mile long, and not even that wide, as it sits in a narrow end of the valley. The back windows of my parents' house, where I grew up, look out to the mountains.
The thing about small towns like this, is that you rarely appreciate them while you're there. When you're a kid, even a kid with a good relationship with your parents, all you can think about it getting out of that town. All you want to do is grow up, and live somewhere where people don't know your whole story; somewhere you can change your story or follow your dreams. You take for granted all the people that were looking out for you. You fail to notice the rolling hills, and the beautiful sunsets. You quickly forget the shooting stars so easily seen from your back yard, without any street lights to dim them.
While we were driving through these rolling hills last week, I became aggravated with the sunset. I'd nursed a mild to moderate headache almost the whole week, and as we were driving, the sun seemed to refuse to go down. I felt as though it was never going to give up. I slammed down the visor in complaint and said, "I just need this sun to go down already!"
My husband, who is usually the more impatient one of the two of us (but does not have my sensitive blue eyes, I might add), calmly stated, in a very nonjudgmental way, the beauty of this earth we so often take for granted. It was a sobering moment, as I looked to the hills, and remembered that I don't get to see sunsets like that anymore. I took them for granted for the 19 years of my life I lived there, and I was still taking them for granted as an adult. But there it was, staring me in the face, the gloriousness of God's creation. He was so much as telling me, look what I've made for you, and I was whining about the sun in my eyes.
We don't have to live in these rural places to appreciate God's creation. It is all around us! From what He's made, to how He's cared for us, we often need to step back a moment and remind ourselves to marvel at the gifts He has given us.
I encourage you to take the time this week (and always!), to look around and appreciate all the things, big and small, that God has done in your lives and around you. From the setting sun to the depths of the earth, there is so much to be thankful for!
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
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