Devotional thought of the day:
5:9 Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. 10 For your example, brothers, in patiently putting up with persecution, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name; 11 remember it is those who had perseverance that we say are the blessed ones. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and understood the Lord’s purpose, realising that the Lord is kind and compassionate.
James 5:9-11 (NJB)
In my devotion today ( i read some scripture – and then one of several devotional books) I came across this quote:
“Many false apostles, in spite of themselves, do good to the masses, to the people, through the very power of the doctrine of Jesus which they preach—even though they don’t practice it.
But this good does not compensate for the enormous and very real harm they do by killing the souls of leaders, of apostles, who turn away in disgust from those who don’t practice what they preach.
That’s why such men and women, if they are not willing to live an upright life, should never push themselves”forward as leaders. “(Escriva, Josemaria . The Way (Kindle Locations 1024-1028). Scepter Publishers.
I have to confess, I have my own list of such false prophets, men who do preach Christ crucified that people come to know the love of God, but then whose lives are filled with things that don’t quite resemble the God-man who gave up heaven to come down and live humbly among us and die, that we might live. Or those that encourage us to try and obey God, and then call for the stoning of those who don’t live up to the expectations they have placed on others. Such hypocrites (the greek for judge is krites btw) do, as Escriva points out – cause much damage – even as God uses what they planned for evil, for good. (see Gen. 50:20 for the first time someone planned evil and God used it to bless others- the cross is another example)
To me it is amazing that God can and does use their words to bless people. But hear Paul’s words about this:
1:15 It is true that some of them are preaching Christ out of malice and rivalry; but there are many as well whose intentions are good; 16 some are doing it out of love, knowing that I remain firm in my defence of the gospel. 17 There are others who are proclaiming Christ out of jealousy, not in sincerity but meaning to add to the weight of my chains. 18 But what does it matter? Only that in both ways, whether with false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed, and for that I am happy; [19a] and I shall go on being happy, too,
Philippians 1:15-18 (NJB)
What really begins to get me – is when I realize – that when I condemn those I consider hypocritical, i am acting exactly as St. Escriva describes. That is, my judgment and condemnation simply is living very inconsistently with the message I preach – for I proclaim clearly that the hope of sinners is found in Jesus’ love, in His cleansing them, and that there is hope. Yet when I condemn these men, (not just warning them, or warning others to stay away from them and why) when I bitterly judge them, when I gossip about them, or even compromise and do not confront them (if such is my responsibility) then I have become the kind of pastor I loathe most. It was once said that we need to preach about real sin – not the sin of those unlike me, but the sins that assault and tempt me and mine. And condemning those who preach and are hypocritical – in a way different than mine, doesn’t bring healing of my own sin-wracked life.
It is then, i need to hear what every hypocrite does – what every false prophet does. That there is no reason to delay our repentance, that God is willing to forgive and does. Then, refreshed by His forgiveness, encouraged by His love – we can return to preaching about Him, and living in Him. ANd perhaps, knowing my own hypocritical nature is forgiven, I can help others find that same forgiveness,… and peace!
“Lord Have mercy!” we cry! To our great relief, even as we cry it, we realize He promised to… and has!