When you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. Taken from Matthew 6:1–6, 16–18
Sometimes we put on a front. We do things to impress people or because we think we’re supposed to. This is exactly what the Pharisees were doing in their good deeds, praying, and fasting. They weren’t real.
Our Christian Witness
When it comes to our Christian witness, we do the same thing. We preach. We tell people about the Lord, we talk about the superiority of the Christian life. But do we demonstrate our words in our behavior?
I have heard story after story over the years of how some guy preached to people at work all day long and then was found to be stealing money from the company. But if we tell other people what to do and don’t do it ourselves, we undermine everything we say. Our hypocrisy will at some point be exposed, and everything we’ve said will be meaningless. But when somebody shares God’s Word honestly and genuinely, it makes for greater receptivity on the part of the hearers.
Preaching on Their Level
One day I was preaching in Leicester Square in Central London, with a large crowd gathered around, and the driver of a double-decker sightseeing bus got out of his vehicle and stood at the back of the crowd. This man stared at me as I talked for fifteen minutes or so. Who is this guy? I wondered. Why is he staring at me?
After I finished speaking, this guy came up to me and said, “When I first heard that you were talking about Christ, I was taken aback. But the more I listened, the more I began to receive what you were saying because I didn’t feel as if you were preaching down to me. I felt that you were on my level.” When people feel that you’re speaking to them from a similar place to where they’re at, they’re more receptive.
Just Be Ourselves
One of the big things emphasized in the church today is a desire to be relevant. Some churches actually hire firms to do demographic studies of their communities and then evaluate the church in light of the kind of people around it. “You’re not quite the right fit for these people,” the firm might say. “You’ve got to get your hair cut. And those clothes you’re wearing—they’ll never work. You’re out of touch.”
What we truly need is to be real. If one of these firms had evaluated Chuck Smith back in 1966, they would not have chosen him to pastor hippies. Actually, by his own admission, he didn’t like hippies. He thought they were lazy bums who needed to get jobs. But even when he started liking hippies, Pastor Chuck never became one. He was just a real guy, and that was the attraction.
When people meet an authentic Christian, someone who’s “real,” they’re generally intrigued. It’s refreshing; it’s attractive; they’re curious to know more. We don’t have to try to be relevant; we just have to be ourselves.
Lord, help us to be transparent, genuine followers of You in these dark days.