Romans 2:21-23 – [Y]ou, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? (NIV 1984)
My Musings – This one’s going to sting a bit. The following quote was recently posted to my FaceBook page. “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it’s accepted by a majority.” I like the quote. I agree with the quote. I believe the quote is very descriptive of what we see happening in these “last days.” So, I shared it. But need to be aware of a couple potential problems.
Problem #1 – While we certainly should not condone or excuse calling a lie truth (or truth a lie), wrong right (or right wrong) or evil good (or good evil), perhaps we should not be too eager to condemn a society that does? After all, weren’t we part of that majority at some point in time? They are now, like we once were, already condemned. What they need now, like we once did, is redemption.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save [redeem] the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:17–21, NIV 1984)
We cannot expect those living in darkness to recognize the light for what it is, if we use it as a weapon to maliciously expose them and not as a tool to sincerely help them see plainly. We do not want people to be blinded by the light. We want them to be able to see through the darkness because of the light. And there is no middle ground here. We must not dampen the light in an attempt make truth, right and good less “offensive” and more “user-friendly.” A watered-down Gospel is no gospel at all.
Problem #2 – Just like God did not send His Son to condemn, but to save, Jesus sends us to be wielders of the light in an increasingly dark world. But we cannot expect those living in darkness to see the light as a good thing if it also reveals our hypocrisy. “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?” We cannot excuse our own faults by viewing the faults of others as more egregious than ours. Jesus was not scourged less for our sins than theirs. His cross was not made heavier because of their sins than it was for ours. His death was not more necessary for their sins than it was for ours. Their was no sin so great that Jesus did not die for it and no sin so small that He did not have to die for it.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16, NIV 1984).
We cannot expect those living in darkness to see the light as a good thing if rather than illuminating our good deeds, it spotlights our hypocrisy.
Now here is where it really stings. Are we Christians, in our hypocrisy, just as guilty of calling a lie truth, wrong right and evil good, when we excuse our “minor” sins while excoriating the “major” sins of the lost?
My Advice – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15–16, NIV 1984)
Proclaim the truth – But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
Stand up for what is right – But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
Expose evil – But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.
Remember, the lost do not need our condemnation, because they already stand condemned. They need our light to guide them out of darkness (the lies they believe to be truth, the wrong they believe to be right, the evil they believe to be good), to where they can see clearly enough to believe the “minority report.” Do not compromise your credibility as a wielder of what is true, right and good, by living like the majority. Keep a clear conscience.
When all is said and done, the majority may continue to “hate the light” and speak “maliciously” about our witness. We should not expect to be treated any differently than the Master. Let’s just make sure that the malicious talk is indeed “slander.” In so doing, we just may help rescue some.
Now for what really, really stings. This advice, like most of the advice I give, is just as much for me as it is for others.