What are your actions saying? What do you do when you are alone, or when your plans are interrupted, or you are disappointed, or your weakness is exposed, or you’re tempted to fear, or someone else prospers or excels you, or you’re called on to help meet someone else’s financial need? How much of a priority do you make your local church? How willing are you to serve obscurely? When those who are closest to you are honest, those who observe you in your unguarded, uncalculated moments, what do they hear from your actions? These are exposing and convicting questions. Jesus had perfect consistency between his words and works. None of the rest of us has this yet.
A sentimentalist is one who delights to have high and devout emotions stirred whilst reading in an armchair, or in a prayer meeting, but he never translates his emotions into action. Consequently, a sentimentalist is usually callous, self-centred and selfish, because the emotions he likes to have stirred do not cost him anything.
It seems like a lot of people who say they know Jesus have all the right words and all the right moves, but what they don’t have is sincerity and authenticity. They talk a big game and use a bunch of twenty-pound words to describe an otherwise simple idea about faith. But in reality, they never really do anything. It’s like a guy with a cowboy hat, one duck, one cow, and a tractor calling himself a rancher. We don’t want to be all hat and no cattle when it comes to faith.
Race, justice, and biblical worship: “Take away from me the noise of your songs. But let justice roll down like waters…” (Amos 5:23-24). We are fooling ourselves if we think God is pleased while we sing our songs and stay silent about injustice.
Some people talk about wanting to resolve their conflicts, but more often, they really have a secret, sometimes subconscious agenda to keep the fight going. The trick is figuring out what’s really underneath. Are they all Christianese and just looking to swap big Christian words like knives? Or do they want to model what Jesus said, risk being wronged, and through that, experience just how big God is?
There are three simple steps that we can take in our lives to protect or repair our reputation and maintain our spiritual sincerity. The first step is to pray. We commit our plans to God and ask Him to guard our hearts against insincerity. We ask Him to make us aware, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, of past interactions in which we were less than sincere. This gives us the opportunity to seek out people we may have offended and make amends. The second step is to examine ourselves. The roots of our insincerity could spring from a desire to be liked (saying things people want to hear) or a cavalier attitude toward making plans (agreeing to things without first checking schedules), or from a place of ignorance (being unaware of how others perceive us)… The third step is to place a renewed emphasis on sincerity and integrity. We do this in both big and small ways… We build a reputation as someone whose walk with Christ is genuine and sincere.
How often have you and I helped to keep sinners easy in their sin, by our inconsistency! Had we been true Christians, the wicked man would often have been pricked to the heart, and his conscience would have convicted him.
Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice.
Every time I see a post or comment “calling someone out,” I’m struck by how we use our self–righteousness as a rationale to humiliate, punish, and even destroy someone’s value as a person. But when Jesus, in genuine righteousness, calls someone out, it’s to restore, heal, and bring him or her fully to life.
“Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)
When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words be without heart.