Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.”
– Mathew 23: 1-7
I have grown up in the church my whole life. My family is a Christian family. I was saved when I was seven. I was baptized the same year. I have gone to church consistently to this day and will continue to do so. I read my Bible, I pray.
Yet, in so many ways, I continue to solely live for myself, and live so that I may be glorified.
Recently, I have become aware that I live much like the Pharisees did, and this fact make me so angry. I consistently strive to follow all the rules and I go out of my way to make sure others do as well. A lot of the time, I am a hypocrite. I criticize the people around me for what they’re doing wrong yet participate in the same sin.
What really bothers me is that it took so long for me to realize this.
Recently at church, during his message, the pastor brought up the fact that we are called to help the weak, and to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Immediately I thought of a girl I knew who I could stand up for, not because I wanted to help her, but because I wanted to be seen as a “good” Christian to the other people around me. Once the thought entered my head, it sickened me, and it still does. How could I be so selfish and uncaring? Me, the kid who group up surrounded by Christians, who got saved before the age of ten.
I came to realize that, in my heart, I wasn’t truly living for Christ. I was living to glorify myself so that I could be known as the “good” Christian, so that people could see and admire the fact that I followed all the rules.
In my heart I truly was a Pharisee. And every time I write that phrase it pains me. I’ve been acting like one of the people Jesus came to ridicule and defy.
The problem is my heart. My heart is not in the right place. And now, every time I pray, I include this verse.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
– Psalm 139:23-24
Don’t live for other to see you. Don’t live to be noticed as a Christian. And certainly don’t live as a hypocrite. Make sure your heart is in the right place. Don’t live to please others with your Christianity.
Live to please God.