(This is a continuation of Wednesday's table talk)
My sister owned a Golden Retriever named George. He died a few years ago, but for me, his memory will always live on.
I first met George 24 years ago when I visited my sister in California for a week. While she went to work during the day, I studied my systematic theology at her place. I also agreed to keep an eye on her 8 month old puppy. George and I quickly became fast friends. He was fuzzy, frisky and had that cute new puppy smell.
However, there was one small problem with George - - he liked to eat poop out of the kitty litter. The first time I was alone with him I caught him sneaking in the cat's box six or seven times to grab a quick snack. Each time he did this my sister instructed me to swat him on the bottom with a rolled up newspaper and say, "No, no...bad dog."
I did not like to discipline him because he was such a cute guy and I am not good at the mean Uncle Chris role. I like being the fun guy that is best of friends with all puppies and children far and wide. But after three days of watching him, I had to enforce my sister's training methods more times than I liked. I began to believe that George really hated me.
Well on the fourth day of this routine, George seemed to be really catching on with his puppy training. In fact, he slept quietly on the floor right next to me for most of the afternoon. As I considered him, I felt horrible as I looked deep in his sad brown eyes. The guilt of playing the mean uncle really caught up to me, and I decided it was time to make amends with poor old George. So I put down my book on the depravity of man, sat on the couch, and then I called George over.
"Come here George, you have been a great little guy today."
So as he slowly waddled over to where I was sitting on the couch, I patted my legs for him to jump up on my lap. His little pea brain couldn't believe it, the mean uncle was smiling and acting nice. So in his joy he took a big leap and jumped up to me with his little pink tongue wagging. As I went to pet him, he licked me right on the face.
And that tongue, oh that tongue!
It was coated with a pungent aroma of warm poop...YUCK! George must have snuck in on the litter while I was reading and secretly ate a pile of dung without me suspecting anything. And now here he was, licking my face..."Get off my lap you rotten dog!" Now I know why he was acting so pleasant - - he was trying to hide his dirty deed.
Hypocrisy is the exact same thing: Smiling Christians acting righteous on the outside while hiding the filth that they are secretly indulging in on the inside. Just like George the dog.
We can argue about the small things: which words are to be considered swear words, how fast can you drive your car over the speed limit without being truly sinful, should you watch an R rated movie, is it wrong to have your kids trick or treat on Halloween? But these questions and others like them are not really the issue when it comes to being a hypocrite. It all boils down to what you secretly are indulging in when no one sees you - - do you really enjoy the life of God or are you just pretending? If you are pretending, the filth that you indulge in when no one is looking will eventually start leaving a bad smell wherever you go. And people will notice!
Often the swearing, the rotten habits, the mocking and the lust-filled eyes are tell-tale signs you have secretly been indulging in depraved things. Hypocrites can try to argue they have done nothing wrong, they can even cry foul at the loud-mouthed legalist to deflect attention from their smelly actions; but the warm pungent aroma of their hypocrisy can not be hidden for long. Poop stinks.
Ephesians 4:1 tells us to "walk worthy of the calling we have received." We have been chosen by the Holy God to reveal his Son in our lives. Do you understand the enormity of this privilege? Do you view it as a high honor to be like Jesus, or is it an inconvenient hassle that cramps your cool style? Personally, I can't believe Jesus want's me to represent him. The great God asked me to run his election campaign in my little part of the world. This is the highest honor I have ever been handed.
Why would I ever want to smell like poop while representing my Savior? I am not a dog, I am not an animal, I am a man, made in his image and his likeness. Nobility, Dignity, Beauty, it is why I have been made in the first place.
Hypocrisy is more than just a few bad actions here or there, it is a lingering stink you can't get rid of.