Not Shopping THERE Anymore!

That’s it; I’m going to shop someplace else. There is NO way that I’m ever going to go to that grocery store again. That woman that checked out her groceries beside me, she—she—she is a hypocrite! She claims to be a great cook and she just bought a store prepared deli cake. Hmmfff.

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Why is it that the only place being with hypocrites bothers us is at church? None of us are without sin. I John 1:8 says if we say we don’t sin, we lie and Christ is not in us. All of us have the potential to be a hypocrite.

When I go to church, I fellowship with people who are just like “me,” saved by God’s mercy and grace. Jesus died so He could have a relationship with all of us. The Word says that God does not want even one person to perish, God wants all people to come to know Jesus as their savior. (II Peter 3:9) No exceptions.

Christians are warned to examine our own hearts before we look for sin in others. (Matthew 7:3-5) However we are to discern what sin is and not ignore it. The Word gives instructions on how to handle sin in our own life and direction for addressing sin within the body of Christ. (Luke 17: 3-4) There is no scripture that says that I should avoid going to church because there are sinners there.

Satan’s job is to discourage us from fellowship with the body of Christ. His favorite tool is a magnifying glass. Satan makes sure that we see every tiny flaw in the people sitting on the pew beside us and in the pulpit before us. Satan knows how easily we humans are distracted and makes full use of that knowledge.

The devil is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) and he delights to point out the personal issues we have with the music director, the pastor’s hair and clothes, whether or not the flowers are real and even what color the carpet is. These things may irritate us simply because of our personal tastes or preference, but to what point?

There is no scripture declaring that Hell is filled with people who don’t sing out of hymnals or put real flowers on the altar. There is no corner in Hell reserved for those pastors who dare to stand in the pulpit without a suit and tie. When I can be so easily distracted about the things that really just do NOT matter—and ignore the fact that my neighbors are lost and going to Hell; satan is absolutely giddy with delight.

The Holy Spirit’s job is to convict individuals of sin, not instruct them about their wardrobe choices or their music style preference. Our job is to pray and if possible, gently restore those who have fallen into sin; while being careful that we don’t fall into temptation ourselves. (Galatians 6:1)

If I’m not diligent in searching my own heart and attitudes; I can find myself going to church as a Pharisee. Pharisees went to “church” to find evidence for use in proving others wrong instead of looking for truth that would teach them how to live right.  Pharisees were concerned about appearances, not loving God and serving with hearts of compassion. (Luke 18:9-12)

When we stand before the Lord on that great day of judgment, we will be asked what we did to build His church; to lead the lost—including the hypocrites—to Jesus. He will want to know what we did to minister to the needs of the poor, the sick and the hurting.

Did I have mercy and work as a servant? Did I help leadership to fulfill the ministry of Christ? Or did I nitpick everything, whine about things that didn’t matter and pout with self-righteousness? God will never ever ask me to explain why there were hypocrites going to my church. He will ask why I never tried to love them to Jesus. And if I didn’t, then won’t it be I who was the hypocrite?

James 2:12-13 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me if I have a heart that seeks to find fault. Search my own heart and show me my own sins so I can ask your forgiveness. Then, help me to show mercy to those who are lost, no matter where I find them. Help me to show the love of God through acts of compassion and encouragement. Thank you for your patience with me as I learn to let Christ minister through me..

 Scriptural References:

 I John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

II Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

 Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Luke 17:3-4 So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.

Revelation 12;10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

Luke 18:9-12 To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable, “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

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