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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paying God Lip-Service

This week in our James bible study we've covered Chapter 2 verses 1 to 7. In verse 1 we are warned against prejudice. Even though it seems that St James is speaking of the poor, I believe he is also speaking of prejudices in general.  There are many kinds of prejudices, social, racial even within our different religions. Prejudices are judgements made that cause us to compare ourselves to others and believe that we are better than them.

A few years ago, a new family moved in next door. The first thing they did was to throw a very loud party complete with music. A couple of weeks later they had another. We soon realised we had nothing in common with them at all. I judged them as godless and inconsiderate. They would park in such a way that made it difficult for us and the other neighbour to get in and out of our houses, as would their friends. They ran a business out of the house that meant people in and out constantly and trucks delivering things would block us in. The one that bugged me the most was when their pool needed to be filled and the water truck would come and block my driveway for up to half an hour. We never once received a call warning us that they were expected just in case we needed to go out.

I felt my resentment for them building more and more and struggled to be a good Christian to them. A couple of years ago, we had a crisis in our home. My husband was away on business and it was these same neighbours who came to my aid. I felt ashamed of all the things I had thought of them. Even though they still have loud parties, park indiscriminately and we are not bosom buddies, I now try harder not to judge them as God used that situation to show me that we are all capable of both good and bad actions.

Look at James 2:2-4 "In making this distinction among yourselves have you not used a corrupt standard?" Here St. James is admonishing 'church going' people for being hypocritical. I thought about that one and realised that, while I don't want to be that way, I am. So are many other Christians.  How often do I look at other women dressed inappropriately for church,  and judge them, without even knowing them. How often do I feel irritated by people around me who do not display the proper reverence in Mass.  How many times have I heard people gossiping after Mass, or criticizing the priest's sermon. All this, while still inside His holy sanctuary!  What of outside of  church?

What St James is saying is that we cannot call ourselves Christians and  and hold prejudices.  We cannot call ourselves followers of Christ and be judgemental.  He is the just judge. Only He has full knowledge. We are all sinners, we all fall. Were it not for the Grace of God none of us would see heaven.  The bible tells us in Matt 7:1-2 "Do not judge and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get and the standards you use will be the standards used for you". We cannot be self-righteous and think that God's Grace is for us alone.  I was reminded of that last week when I encountered someone who had hurt me a lot in the past at church. I had to confess to holding on to unforgiveness and felt God gently remind me that if He could forgive, so should I and that His Grace is for all who seek it.

This theme of hypocrisy is dealt with by Jesus himself  when he addressed the Pharisees and scribes who accused his disciples of eating with unclean hands. In Mark 7:6 "He answered, 'How rightly Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites int he passage of scripture : This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. Their reverence of me is worthless, the lessons they teach nothing but human commandments"

On examining myself, I have to admit that there are certainly times in my life when I do not ACT like a good Christian. Judging others seems to be part of human nature. I have to train myself to still those thoughts before they take root. It is not easy but I do not want to pay God lip-service. I want all my actions to be ones that glorify Him. Earlier in James 1:22, we are told,"But you must DO what the Word tells you and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves"  To do anything else is to pay our God "lip-service". There is a song we sing in church called "They'll know we are Christians by our love".  Here is a link to view a video that may illustrate my point more clearly..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CobNWUXb1M&NR=1

Heavenly Father, I bring to you my tendency to judge others, to view them through prejudiced eyes. I ask your forgiveness for the times that I have been self-righteous and hypocritical, for the times I have not shown to all people the love that you ask me to. I pray, Lord, that you will help me to change this part of me that keeps me from being your light. Give me the strength to overcome my human weaknesses so that I may truly be your light. Amen

May God's grace be with you always and may your light shine brightly today


Suzanne said...

What a great post, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was very encouraged!

Mandy said...

Thank you so much for stopping by "Brokenness into Beauty" today! It seems the Lord sends a precious heart like yours my way when He knows I need the encouragement the most! ;) We both need to just "keep on keeping on" for Him! Thanks for the sweet comment and for blessing me today!!

Tara said...

This is so true! I really try not to be this way towards people, because Jesus came for the sinners, not for those that already were living their life perfectly. You hardly ever see someone whos life is going GREAT decide to just come to the lord! Its always ppl that are down and out, broke, beaten up by life that reach out to God.So who are we to judge anyone?? Unfortuanely I see this alot in my church over the years too. I am penecostal and its more like "that girl is wearing pants" or "look at so n so cut her hair" or something stupid like that lol. what people fail to realize or seem to forget is that the way we dress and carry ourselves is between US and CHRIST, and isnnt anyone elses' business. But people do tend to get caught up in "living holy"and tend to forget how it was when Jesus first brought them out of the darkness.
Unfortunately we are all human though and until the lord comes back this is all stuff we are going to have to live with.
God bless