[Jesus continued teaching about the Kingdom:] "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw the bad ones away. That is the way it will be at the end of the world. The angels will come and separate the wicked people from the righteous, throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
— Matthew 13:47-50 NLT
"I can't stand church; those people are nothing but hypocrites!" Yes, it's true for some of us. The church has folks who don't walk their talk and put their lives where their mouths are. Sometimes, we are this way because of weakness — we're struggling to overcome a sinful past full of addictive and sinful habits. Sometimes, it's because of ignorance — we haven't learned that what we're doing is sinful. Sometimes, we just blow it! And sometimes, it's because some of us really are hypocrites and have never really surrendered to the lordship of Christ and truly repented and turned their lives over to God. Rather than being discouraged by the weakness among God's people, we must respond in three clear ways.
- We must make sure our lives are on track and fully yielded to Jesus. We need to deal with our own shortcomings before tackling the shortcomings of someone else (Matthew 7:5).
- We must realize that there will always be pretenders in God's family who are not really what they claim to be, but God knows their hearts and will judge them accordingly.
- Those who have drifted from the path Jesus is calling them to live need to be restored, and we need to help do the restoring!
Rather than blame or be ashamed of those among us who are not walking the talk, let's help them learn the joy of living fully for Christ!
Father, I confess that I sometimes get discouraged because some who claim to be your children don't live by your values or live to bring you glory. Instead of the cynicism Satan tries to put into my heart, please stir in me a passion to share the joy of your grace and lordship so your church shines brightly as your presence and holiness in the world. Give me a heart to restore, reclaim, and redeem rather than criticize. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.