“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” 2Thessalonians 1:11
D.L. Moody once wrote the following story in one of his books, “Some years ago a remarkable picture was exhibited in London. As you looked at it from a distance, you seemed to see a monk engaged in prayer, his hands clasped, his head bowed. As you came nearer, however, and examined the painting more closely, you saw that in reality he was squeezing a lemon into a punch bowl! What a picture that is of the human heart! Superficially examined, it is thought to be the seat of all that is good and noble and pleasing in a man; whereas in reality, until regenerated by the Holy Ghost, it is the seat of all corruption.”
We human beings have become good at pretending to be what we’re not. Some people make a living of it as spies, others simply employ it when beneficial. We pretend to like someone’s cooking, put on a show to impress our boss, fake knowledge and skill to look better in the eyes of others, and act civil around people we can’t stand. We even take that skill into our spiritual lives, putting on a show of spirituality and sincerity when our hearts don’t match our words and actions.
For example, there once was a man in history who made free use of the Christian vocabulary. He talked to others about God’s blessings and painted a picture of Christian principals that would lay the groundwork for the new government he had in mind. He conveyed a deep burden to help his fellow countrymen and a historic responsibility to better the lives of others. He printed sincere stories in newspapers, and even in church papers. He toted an old Bible and referenced it as the secret to his strength. Some people thought he was a prophet from God, others thought he was the devout leader their nation needed. But when everything was eventually revealed, people realized that while Adolf Hitler had the outward evidences of Christianity, his sincerity was a lie.
How sad that someone would use religion to their own selfish advantage, but isn’t that what we do at times? We pray when others are watching, read our Bible because it’s expected, and attend church so no one thinks we’re skipping; yet on the inside our hearts are untouched and our lives are unchanged. We put on the religious show to impress others, while God mourns our inward degradation.
Paul prayed in 2 Thessalonians that the early Christians wouldn’t simply have an outward show of faith, but would truly follow God and love Him with their hearts,– He prayed that God would count them worthy of the work they had done.
If we were to remove your outer Christianity (your words, actions, behaviors, and appearances) and revealed your inner Christianity (your thoughts, desires, emotions, and heart motives), would we still recognize you as a Christian?
Playing the part of a Christian becomes natural as you get into the routine of outwardly following God’s commands, but God’s desire isn’t for you to be an outward conformist (as the Pharisees and other religious leaders of His day were), but He desires for your heart to follow Him.
Is your outer walk consistent with your inner walk? Don’t fall into the trap of hypocrisy, but daily evaluate your motives and allow God to judge your heart. Keep a consistent walk with God both inwardly and outwardly. (Daily in the Word)