Written By Kezia Lewis, Thailand
I once met a lady at church who touched me with her behavior. She would raise her hands during worship, and cry and belt out the songs with an obvious ache vibrating in her voice. During prayer time, she would plead with us to pray for her. I wanted to embrace her.
Then I learned of her story.
She was having an affair with a guy who was married—with kids. I was shocked, and boiled with anger. From then on, only one thought rang through my mind whenever I saw her—“What a hypocrite!” I had to resist the urge to berate her: Stop pretending. No use coming to church if you’re leading a double life.
I felt justified in being angry because I saw myself as “defending” God. Surely, I thought, He disapproved of her staining His name with her pretense and her claims of righteousness.
Then God ministered to my angry heart.
He showed me that He didn’t need or want my defense. He wanted me to love her, because He wanted her to stay. He reminded me that He accepted her—all of her, the good and the bad—as much as He accepted me. All of me. He showed me that her sins did not define her, just as my sins don’t define me.
I’m not that different
I used to expect nothing less than perfection from those who claim to follow Jesus. When I began walking with Jesus, however, I discovered that perfection wasn’t going to happen overnight. I was—and am—still flawed. I carry with me baggage from my old life, including habits and ways that need to be knocked down. I still wrestle with brokenness and weaknesses. And while I am not the same old Kezia, I mess up badly every day and go back to my old self even after years of walking with God.
One of my many weaknesses is gossip, an ugly habit that I have been a slave to for most of my life. I feel that if I don’t join in the conversation of dishonoring a person, I become an outsider—or worse, I become “the outsider”, the victim of gossiping. I fear I won’t belong anymore, and that I would be rejected. So I cave in to my fear and take part in smearing another person.
Every time I gossip, however, shame covers me from head to toe when I realize what I have done. Maybe this is just who I am—a blab—I tell myself. Maybe I am mistaken in claiming to be God’s child, because surely I would never do this if it were true. Maybe I am no righteous daughter of the King for blabbing about what so and so did.
Living in a fallen world inside a fallen body, I feel the tension between a determination to live a holy life, and my flesh and old life. Every day, I make decisions that go against the grain of who Jesus is; I sin and bring disgrace to His name. And when this happens, I hear the world—and even myself—label me a hypocrite.
Am I a hypocrite?
I pray, go to church regularly, sing songs of worship, and praise Jesus. Then I go home and act against God’s truths, as if mocking Him. I find myself crawling back to my sins. I feel like a fraud—a villain masquerading as a hero, consciously deceiving people about my true nature.
So, am I a hypocrite? The answer is yes, I am.
But not in the way the world would understand it. The world sees my “goodness” and my “righteousness”—a pretense I don to appear virtuous.
I have been made righteous by Jesus’ blood, and that is who I truly am; that is who He sees. But a lot of times I go against that truth because it’s easier to be rotten than to be righteous. It’s easier to stay in the mud than to fight to come out of it. It’s easier to just be like everyone else, doing what everyone else is doing. The world has made it as simple as possible to defy God. I end up being a hypocrite because I can’t help staying in the mud.
Some people give up being Christians entirely because they are tired of being hypocrites. So many times, too, I’ve wanted to give up the fight. To stop making claims of righteousness, to stop trying to pull myself out of the mud.
But God would not let me—He always pulls me out. Jesus declares that I am a new creation: I am His daughter; I am righteous; I am His. He will not let me go and let me be.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.” (Romans 8:15)
Being a hypocrite is not a good thing. But I don’t think God wants me to give up on Him on account of being labelled a hypocrite. Instead, He wants me to give up my unrighteousness—which may take a really long time, which means I will continue to be a “hypocrite” for the time being.
I am a mess, a broken person. Giving up to my sins seems effortless. But God will stop at nothing to reclaim me. He is relentless in telling me of His love, of demonstrating to me that I have a Father in Heaven who cares for me deeply. When I read His Word, it wraps me with peace, it removes the shame of my sins, and it gently pulls me up. How can I not go on? How can I give up the fight? How can I give up the race He has set before me, when He hasn’t stopped running for me and with me? I must not find satisfaction in the mud. It’s not what Jesus wants for me. It’s not who Jesus sees in me.
“Sovereign Father, have Your way in my life. I want what You want for me. I pray for freedom from the destructive cycles of pride and fear in my life. I pray: take off this mask I put on to try and belong like everyone else. It’s so subtle I hardly notice that I’m donning it. Uproot this inclination to be wicked that manifests itself in many different forms in my life. I pray that I live in the realness of Your love and in the truths of Your Word. I am Your child. This is who I really am. Help me to behave like Your child. I pray this in the name of the One who died for me, the Rock of my Salvation, Jesus Christ. Amen.”