My last column was meant to encourage everyone to develop a respect for God’s word. We need to have the level of respect for the Scriptures such that we honor all of God’s instructions, even those which are difficult to follow or confusing to us. Respect for God’s word shows our willingness to yield to his wisdom and guidance even when we may feel compelled to do something different.
The day after I submitted the column, I was part of a fascinating conversation on another reason why we must honor and respect God’s word. I was talking with some colleagues at a crawfish boil (yes, you can eat crawdads and yes, they are fabulous when cooked properly) and the topic of religion came up.
A man, who fully admitted to not being religious, said one of the things which bothered him about Christians was the common practice of openly criticizing certain sins while also openly participating in a different sin. A lady next to me admitted that Christians should not participate in drinking or gambling but that her congregation was going to have a picnic soon where alcohol and opportunities for gambling would both be offered. The man ended the conversation by saying, “I guess Christians can pick and choose what things to follow from the Bible.”
We can never serve as effective ambassadors for Christ if we pick and choose what to follow. For this man, the message of Christ and the life-giving guidance of God were corrupted by the actions of those who were condemning the actions of others. Hypocrisy thwarted any attempts to convince him of the power of God’s word.
This very situation appears to have existed among the Jewish brethren in the church at Rome.
“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,’ as it is written.” Romans 2:21-24.
When we condemn unrighteousness at one moment but then pursue unrighteousness soon after, we have not separated ourselves from the world of sin. It doesn’t matter if we are speaking the truth or not. People won’t hear us and they won’t care. We’ve given them no compelling reason to crucify the flesh and yield to Christ.
True respect for God’s Word will not create this unfortunate scenario. People may still reject the message of the cross despite our best efforts; however, they will be unable to point out hypocrisy in our lives. Instead, if we follow the advice of Peter, we will have “conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak evil against [us] they may, by (our) good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:12. Additionally, our respect for God’s Word and our lifestyle centered on holiness may work to bring more souls back to the Lord.
Jeremy Morris, his wife, and children attend the Church of Christ off of Murray Road. He can be reached at email@example.com.