Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Be a Hypocritical Christian

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul seems to be saying to consider what you admire about successful people. The successful athlete works hard to stay at the top of his game. Your friend might work hard with her diet to eat right and shed pounds. You might even be working hard to save money to go on a vacation. All these things are very important in Redmond. All these things take work and perseverance. All these things are fleeting.

On the other hand, there's one thing we as Christians profess to be more important than all this. We will sing on Sunday that we put God above all other things, then jump right back into our lives. It sure would be fun to go to Hawaii. I'd sure like to lose some weight. I wish I were in better shape.

Paul is saying not to live an aimless life chasing the fancies of the day. Remember that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives. We shouldn't get preoccupied with the entitlements of this world and remember to fulfill our duty to God.

I had a very hard time coming up with an application, and I believe that is because my observation was incomplete. This is not a simple "practice what you preach" message. This is a "question your motives" message. It asks us to question if we do things in the name of God to bring glory to God and expand His kingdom, or do we do them as part of our own earthly empire building? It is this second point that I struggle with, as the first point can be mitigated by not preaching much. It is this second point makes me question the doctrine of other self-professed Christians. It is this second point that makes me a bit hypocritical.

I think a lot of this can be solved by what I think of as the Christian litmus test; how does it hold up to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment?

Therefore, my application is not necessarily to deny myself life’s pleasures, but to look for opportunities to serve God in them. Go on vacations and enjoy them, but attend the local church there and be open to opportunities to listen to people and hear opportunities to serve. At the gym, or at work, or wherever I find myself, be mindful that God might have put me there so that I might be made aware of an opportunity to serve Him and obey.

Dear Lord, please help me to tear down the walls that compartmentalize my life and make it easy to forget my obligation to You when I’m in certain compartments of daily life. Please keep my mind open so that I may hear people’s needs and be compelled to help them in the name of Christ.


  1. Thanks Ralph. Your last thought is so different from today's culture; even today's so-called Christian culture. Our culture is preoccupied with the entitlements of this world and dismisses our duties to God. My application and prayer would be remember what Jesus said when asked what is the greatest commandment; Love the Lord your God with all your bein (heart, soul, mind and strength) and love your neighbor as yourself. Today I want to do both of those as high priority over the things I feel entitled to.

  2. Ralph, I really appreciated your application. The motive is the key, even when we are talking about things that might be sacrificial in nature. People who are not Christians can do amazingly loving things to help their neighbor. Because it is done by a non-believer does it mean that it is any less loving? If we measure the act by our earthly standards, ofcourse not. For me, as a Christian, the act itself is important but I must keep the overall purpose in mind--to love people as Christ loves them to draw them closer to him and a life with him.

  3. Thx for posting this, Ralph. I appreciated your forthright reflection.