Archive for August, 2015

Religious Hypocrites


            Then he said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.  These will receive great condemnation” (Mark 12: 38-40.)


            Jesus warned his children to be wary of the Pharisees who were abusing their positions of religious authority in order to amass large quantities of wealth.  Outwardly they appeared Godly; they wore the robes of holy men and made long prayers in public for all to see; yet privately they would seize every opportunity to abuse those who were helpless.  Jesus said that they “devour(ed) widow’s houses.”  In the ancient world, widows were very easily exploited.  As a mandatory condition for marriage, a man had to build a house for his bride. If the husband passed away, then the wife would inherit the home.  With no enduring source of income, widows were often forced to sell their homes in order to survive.  A number of the religious Pharisees who claimed to be Godly would therefore exploit the widow’s circumstances; paying far less for the property than it was actually worth.  Many, including these widows were being victimized because they trusted in the outward appearance of Godliness.  Jesus clearly spoke of a day when such vile individuals would be judged for their misdeeds.

            Many years ago, I worked as a sales representative for a tile company.  Having recently become a Christian, most of the other employees were aware of my conversion.  One day, the Pastor of a world famous church located just up the street walked through the front door.  After he and his wife had made a small purchase, they pulled around to the back to pick it up.  As I headed to the loading dock with the sales slip, one of my co-workers (who was not a Christian) contemptuously remarked, “Isn’t that your pastor friend’s car; the one that costs over a hundred thousand dollars?”  Sure enough; there it sat, washed and waxed; in all of its splendor.  My heart was filled with anger and sadness; knowing that he had likely been using God’s name for personal profit. Concerning judgment, the words of Christ were eventually realized, when a few years later, this man and his family lost everything.  His mega church, with all of its expensive buildings, statues, and complexes went bankrupt. In a few short months the church dissolved and the entire establishment was sold to another institution.

            In his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ staunchly warned his followers to avoid hypocrites; especially religious hypocrites who would seek to exploit others and to use God’s name for personal profit.  As Christians we are not to be deceived by the superficial appearance of Godliness.  Rather, we must test everyone to see if what they do is truly of God.  If what a pastor, a teacher, or a preacher says on stage is not synonymous with who they are in private, then perhaps they cannot be trusted.  

            “Lord Heavenly Father, please reveal to us the areas in our lives where we are being hypocritical; and help us to change.  May we always accurately represent You in every area of our lives.  May we be loving, giving, and caring; in public and in private.  Help us to recognize false teachers and religious hypocrites, that we may guide others away from them and toward You.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank you; and we ask and we pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Second Mile


                “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mathew 5: verse 38 – 42.)


            In the first century A.D. the Roman army occupied the Holy Land.  As conquerors they were afforded certain privileges.  One law in particular gave every Roman soldier the right to compel a Jewish citizen to carry their equipment for up too, but not in excess of, one mile.  Jesus used this commonly understood law to impress upon His followers the importance of serving others in abundance.  When a soldier asked them to carry a load for one mile, the Lord insisted they carry it for two miles.  Simply put, accomplishing the bare minimum proves absolutely nothing.  Instead, the genuine love of God is made manifest whenever we exceed the demands, requests, and expectations of others.

            A few years ago an influential Pastor named Chuck Smith went to be with the Lord.  At age 86, he had been battling cancer for quite some time.  Upon initially being diagnosed, he began a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation.  These treatments, coupled with his age, made him unsteady on his feet.  I was therefore asked to accompany him to and from his daily radio program every day; to prevent him from falling.  At the end of each program, we would hop in to his golf cart and head back to the church office.  While on the way he would drive around the campus picking up garbage; he would also stop to talk to anyone in need.  One day a woman approached him in tears.  She explained that her marriage was suffering and that she had left messages with another pastor concerning counseling; but that individual had never returned her phone calls.  Pastor Chuck lovingly encouraged and comforted the woman.  He then told her to speak with his secretary about setting up a counseling appointment with him later that week.  I was amazed that a man in his 80’s with lung cancer, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy was still out-serving many of the more youthful and seemingly healthy on staff pastors.

            Like Pastor Chuck, Jesus has called each of his children to go the second mile; we must love others in abundance; we must give others more than is needed or required; we must serve our fellows with great sincerity and passion.  Through our selfless actions, others can know the mercy and love of God.  If we are obedient and continue to give glory and honor to the Lord, we will come to know the blessings of unending joy.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, may we go the second mile.  May we serve and love others in abundance.  Use us to reveal Your love to the world.  Increase our faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish Your will in this place, and bring honor to Your sacred name.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

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