Make Sure You Are the Real Thing!
Gale and I both agree that we need to eat less candy, but putting our intentions into practice is often a challenging task. We made a great deal of candy during the Christmas season, one of which was pecan brittle. I have developed a pretty good following of those who enjoy the tasty treat, unfortunately it is loaded with sugar fortified calories. We still have some leftovers in the freezer which are difficult for me to resist when I open the freezer door. I told my wife that we need to bury the candy under other frozen things so we won’t be so tempted to indulge in it, but so far it lies conveniently near the top with easy access!
I recall one time some time ago as I sat in my easy chair with no one else present, there happened to be one of my favorite candy bars within hand’s reach. Temptation was heavy and it got the better of me, but I came up with a scheme to hide my weakness. I slipped the contents out without destroying the wrapper, enjoyed the sweet snack, and reshaped the empty wrapper so it looked just like it did to start with. As you might guess, my attempt at innocence was short-lived as the sharp eye of my lovely wife discovered that the “candy bar” was only an empty shell. It might have appeared like it did before, but it was empty; it was a fake, robbed of its contents.
It is a letdown when tangible things are found to be inauthentic, but it is devastating when the perceived character of a person is proven to be false. In Matthew 23:27 Christ exposed the deceptive hearts of the hypocritical religious leaders of His day with this blistering statement: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (New International Version). As hypocrites, they were pretenders; they claimed to be one thing, but the true contents of their hearts proved them to be otherwise. Just as He could see through their duplicity then, the Lord knows the true nature of our lives. No matter how convincing the outward appearance is, He knows the kind of person we really are.
In the writings of the apostle Paul, he includes this bit of guidance for us to strive toward to help insure that we are genuine in Christian character: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:9-10). In the verses that follow he gives a variety of directives about authentic Christian living against which we should evaluate our lives consistently to make sure that what is seen on the outside by others is what is really on the inside of our hearts. These words of Psalm 139 make a fitting prayer for each of us: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting” (verses 23-24).
Among the things that we desire to take place in our lives in 2021 we should include that of being genuine in our walk with God—not a pretender that only appears to be an authentic follower of Christ but one who truly knows and serves Him. Only He can transform us from the inside out, and He will if we will allow Him to.