Andrea O Smith
God Met Me in the Midst of My Hypocrisy
You read that right. I'm a hypocrite. I likely always will be. It's not intentional, but because I am a continuing work in progress; constantly learning and growing to become a better version of me. So, here's how God slapped me upside the head in the midst of my immaturity and hypocrisy. What's more embarrassing is it happened at church and it didn't even have anything to do with the sermon.
"Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him," Luke 17:3 ESV
I had managed to get all the children dressed, fed and to church on time by myself. The last few weeks had been extraordinarily busy and my mind wasn't handling it well, so it decided it shouldn't rest lest it miss something important. So, groggy and exhausted, I sat down in my seat ready to lay all those burdens down at the feet of Jesus while I worshipped and was ready to be filled by the sacred words of scripture to renew my weary soul. Well, the young girl next to me didn't have the same goal of a peaceful service in mind. Bless her heart, she was so young, she could likely tell you her age using only the amount of fingers on her hands. She was bored out of her mind. To be fair, the programming for her age didn't start until the next week, so this was a tough type of sermon to sit through at that stage in life. This darling, adorable, little lass started clapping the insides of her shoes together. He knees acted like the top of a pendulum as her feet swung to the sides and came crashing together with a loud, plastic-y bang. The first few times didn't bother me. Then, it started to feel like Chinese water torture to my sleep-deprived, headache ridden brain.
So I did what any adult exhibiting all the Fruits of the Spirit would do (that part is tongue-in-cheek for those who don't know me well)... I did that half-turn, neck-crane. You know the one. It's where you look over so obviously as to get their attention and hope it garners just enough shame to get them to stop. As you can guess, she couldn't have cared less about my nonchalant head turn. I decided to up the ante by doing the neck-crane and also add an eyes-wide-open, brow raised head tilt to the mix. To no avail. I was out of ideas for silently chastising this little lady, so I resigned myself to focus harder on the sermon. Not long after, a girl with special needs who is wheelchair bound let out a joyful noise from the back of the sanctuary. I thought to myself, 'I sure am glad that they bring their daughter to church even though they know she could be a distraction.' (You're probably already laughing and cringing because you have surmised what comes next.) I felt like God said, "Excuse me?!? Say that again, but slower." It wouldn't surprise me if I had replied, "Ohhhhhhh!" out loud. I felt like God slapped me upside the back of the head. The lesson smacked hard and stung. How could I give grace to one and not the other?
I sat for a moment in my punishment. Then, it got worse. I felt like God said, "you need to repent to these parents." Huh? No! No way! They didn't hear my thoughts. They would never know the depths of my
depraved thinking. Why would I do that? The nudge from the Holy Spirit was explaining to me that they needed affirmation for bringing their whole family to church. Reluctantly, I swallowed my pride until it stuck to the sole of my shoe and walked over to them after service. After introducing myself, I told them the story of my struggle that morning and that I wanted them to know what it was a beautiful act of obedience it is that they brought their kids to church. It turns out...that was the first time they had all attended as a family. (Slap me straight across the face, why don't you, Lord! That would have been less embarrassing.) Wouldn't you know that God set it up where that Mama would be in my Bible Study group just a couple of weeks later?!
Friends, it is important for us to be vulnerable. It is important for us to repent, even if it is uncomfortable and embarrassing. Would they have received the same message had I not told them about my hypocrisy? Sure. But being honest and open helps show that we are all learning and growing. That Mama knows that I do not think I'm perfect. I'm not here to put on a show or act like I have it all together. Hopefully, that makes her and others feel like they can be authentic in their journey toward spiritual growth too. The Bible teaches extensively about repentance. It is holy and right to do this before the Lord. Is it not, also, a good practice to do amongst ourselves? We don't have to burden each other with all of our negative thoughts and actions, but there are times where it is appropriate and healthy to do so.
My challenge to you this week is to be vulnerable, open and honest with someone about where you are falling short. Ideally this would be someone you trust with that intimate information, but it might even be something as small as apologizing to a co-worker or family member that you haven't been showing them enough grace and/or patience. It may deepen your relationship and open lines of communication. They will feel more free knowing that they are not expected to be perfect if you're not pretending that you are infallible. We can admit that we are happenstance hypocrites.
Lord, thank you for sending Jesus as the perfect example of Love. Thank you for loving us despite our constant slip-ups. Please help guide us to be open and authentic with those around us. Continue to point out our flaws to us, so we can work efficiently to become a better reflection of you. Help us see the person this week that we can show our true selves to in order that we can build each other up from a posture of penitence not perfection. In Jesus' holy name we pray, Amen.