I learned something about myself at work last week. As I rode shotgun in our company box truck, sunlight poured through the windows and revealed grooves worn into the iPhone case in my hand. I put my finger to them, feeling the indentations, and I just had to smile.
I like to have worn spots on my things. My watch, my shoes, my iPhone case, my pocket knife, my Bible, my coffee mugs – you name it. I like for my things to bear the marks of use. It gives them a certain air of “cool-ness”, if you will.
I like it so much, in fact, that I have tried before to mimic the signs of wear on a brand new thing. I wanted it to look worn without actually being worn. Like SpongeBob and his blow up muscles, I wanted to shortcut the process.
Another Form Of Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is often thought of as saying one thing and doing another – a direct disconnect between words and actions. But I believe that it can be more subtle. Hypocrisy can also mean trying to appear further along than we are.
It is simply wanting the worn look without taking the time for wear to happen. It is taking a shortcut, trying to force something that isn’t there.
As young men in Christ, our pursuit of godliness can fall victim to this.
Good Intentions, Bad Methods
Hypocrisy does not always have a sinful motivation. Hypocrisy can have the right end game but the wrong way of getting there. People can have the best intentions in the world and yet become hypocrites in their methods.
Jesus did not pronounce woes on the Pharisees (Matt. 23) because they had an evil motive. After all, they wanted to follow God and lead others to Him. He criticized the fact that they tried to shortcut the process and settled for appearance. Cleaning a whole cup can take time. It can be messy. It is tempting to clean only the outside, because if it looks clean who will know?
The principle applies to us. We can truly desire holiness, righteousness, and godliness, and those are good things! But if we try to skip the years of practice and instruction that it can take to get there, and if we try to appear more mature than we are, we are hypocrites.
As long as we look righteous, what does all this matter? First of all, you can hurt yourself. I can think of a time when I wanted callouses on my fingers but didn’t have time for them to form naturally. So I sat down with my bass guitar and slid my fingers on the strings hundreds of times. Bad idea. I walked away with bloody, blistered fingertips.
When we want the look of holiness without the process, we shortchange ourselves out of the maturity God wants us to experience and settle for a cheap and “easy” substitute.
Second, it can hurt others around us. In our time, people want faster and easier. People begin to look at the bloody fingers we have after a day and think, “Hmm, so that’s how that works?” If you take the shortcut, chances are someone around you will follow your lead.
What Can We Do?
Let’s stop trying to be something we are not. While fighting hypocrisy, the first thing to do is to embrace where you are.
You may not be the most godly and holy person, but you are where you are for a reason. It is a process and it will take time. You may not be there yet but you will get there. Embrace your point in the journey and be patient.
Next, be willing to endure. It is a long and sometimes arduous process. Ignore that impatience that life in the 21st century has given you. God has ordained this to take time and practice.
It can be frustrating. It can be messy. Pray. Press on. Find encouraging friends and mentors. Stay in it. Don’t sell yourself short of the life God has for you by settling for appearance over true change.
In a world where we want to buy brand new jeans with holes in them, submit to the process of sanctification. The wear will come on its own. Just wait for it.