by Richard Mansel
In 1939, James Thurber brought the world Walter Mitty, a mousy, aging man who imagines himself a gritty adventurer. Cervantes’ character, Don Quixote, fancies himself a hero storming the countryside slaying dragons and rescuing beautiful women. These men mired in drab lives discovered excitement and intrigue through fantasy. Ultimately, their fantastic sides became their legacies.
Christians can be guilty of this, also. They can appear to live staid, conservative lives as disciples of Christ. Yet, they may ultimately find the life boring and unfulfilling. They create a fantasy life so they can feel alive. In their relations with the opposite sex, their words are respectful while their fantasies are obscene. When they talk to members of another race, their words are kind while their thoughts are racist. Talking to brethren, they are conciliatory while their thoughts are combative and cruel.
They are two widely divergent people. One appears to be a gentle, Christian while the other is hostile. Moreover, they do so intentionally.
A Christian stands and leads singing or serves on the Lord’s Table in his suit and smile. He carries his Bible close to his heart and greets everyone as his spiritual family. Then, upon leaving, cranks up his music filled with anger, obscenity, and hate, dons his scowl and heads off into the world. His language is raunchy at work and he visits his mistress and her liquor cabinet on Saturday night before repeating the same Sunday ritual.
A young single Christian woman wears a conservative outfit on Sunday morning and receives admiring looks from the other sisters in the church. She affirms her commitment before the other young Christian women to remain pure until marriage. On Monday, she heads to school in a small percentage of the clothing she wore on Sunday and after school whisks her boyfriend into her room before her parents return home from work.
A multitude of examples abound. The sad duplicity of many Christians sickens God. He says we must not try to be hot and cold, at the same time, or he will vomit us from his mouth (Revelation 3:15). A “double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, NKJV).
All Christians sin and will live contrary to what they profess in some areas (1 John 1:10). Sadly, God’s people often fail to live up to what God desires. Yet, they do not fall into the category of hypocrisy. We must not confuse the two as happens in the minds of those with guilty consciences looking for justifications to persevere in sin. A weak person is not a hypocrite because hypocrisy is not accidental, but intentional.
People hold preachers to such a high standard that if they ever violate what they preach, they are liars and unworthy to preach God’s word. However, preachers are not magically immune from sin because they condemn it.
A man cannot be two people. He must be consistent to the core, as best that he can. A house divided cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). We cannot serve two masters or we will fail both (Luke 16:13). God requires commitment in our lives (Matthew 11:28).
Jesus clearly says that we must never be ashamed of him and his word. We must stand for him daily and be faithful and committed. Our mission extends to every aspect and moment of our lives (Mark 8:34-38). We will be judged by our words and thoughts (1 Corinthians 3:20; Acts 8:22). Moreover, God sees and hears everything, so he cannot be fooled (Galatians 6:7). In addition, the world notices. When we live duplicitous lives we will be known by our deception. People will not be fooled forever.
by Richard Mansel