PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Famous Russian Novelist and Writer, Leo Tolstoy, once wrote, “Don’t judge God’s holy ideals by my inability to meet them. Don’t judge Christ by those of us who imperfectly bear His name.” Can I get an, “Amen!”??
It’s no secret that the term Christian is, for many, synonymous with “hypocrite.” It’s a grossly unfair assessment since “Christian” doesn’t equate to perfection. But in truth—there have been those whose actions have given such a stench of hypocrisy in the name of Christ, it’s little wonder that we have that reputation.
For one thing, the very Word of God is offensive to those who do not understand. In 1 Peter 2:7-8 ESV, Peter quoted from the books of Psalm and Isaiah when he wrote, “So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.”
It’s offensive because people don’t like to see their imperfections in the mirror of truth. Therefore, it’s easy to point out the failures of Christians whom they assume, are supposed to be perfect.
Thankfully, we have Jesus who recognizes that perfection is a standard we cannot obtain. He said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 ESV).
I know, but it’s not about our ability to be perfect, but it’s about His perfection that is within us when we accept Him as our Savior. The word “perfect,” in this case, is from the Greek word, “τέλειος,” which means “mature” (thank you, Logos Bible Software, for turning me into a Greek Linguist this morning!)
As we grow in Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to mold us and shape us to be more like Jesus, we can love others more perfectly as God commands. We can be more capable of living up to God’s holy ideals.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 ESV says, “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” Hashtag Truth. However, Romans 5:8 ESV reminds us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” and in 1 John 2:5 ESV, it says, “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”
We aren’t perfect. Yet we are called to be. Still, God loves us despite our imperfections and sent Jesus to die for us. And through His perfect love, we are matured and made more like the perfection of Jesus Christ.
Today, as you pray, thank God for loving us despite our flaws. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be more like Jesus. Ask Him to help you be an example to others who would view the name of Christian as hypocritical. Ask Him to use you to break that assumption through and with the perfect love of Christ.