“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9–12, NIV 1984).
“If you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you, 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?” (Romans 2:19–23, NIV 1984).
My Musings – How does the world view us? Are we being persecuted because of our faith in and faithfulness to Jesus Christ and His teachings, or are we rightfully being criticized for our hypocrisy? More importantly, how does Jesus view us? Let us examine ourselves.
While we are praising God are we cursing men? The very people that Jesus commissioned to go make disciples. Does fresh water flow from us on Sunday, while salt water flows throughout the rest of the week? How can the Holy Spirit work in us to bear much fruit in keeping with our calling, when the fruit we are cultivating is more in line with what we see (and at the same time condemn) in the world around us? “My brothers [and sisters], this should not be.” What are we really teaching others when we do not live up to the very things that we teach?
How would Jesus view such hypocrisy? I think we know. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:23–28, NIV 1984).
My Advice – It is possible to “practice the latter, without neglecting the former.” But let’s not kid ourselves, there is no such thing as “selective reality.” James stated somewhat ironically “my brothers, this should not be.” If we are true followers of Christ, it must not be. If we are genuine followers of Christ it cannot be. Fresh water and salt water cannot flow from the same source. Fig trees do not produce olives. We cannot serve two masters.
If the world hates us, let it hate us because we serve The Master. This is the true mark of discipleship. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15:18–21, NIV 1984).