Keep Shining. Keep Smiling.

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I recently wrote a post about random acts of kindness ( ).  I’ve had my share of friendly, wonderful people who have made me smile with a word or a kind gesture.  But the other day, one older gentleman outshone them all.

I was walking out of a store, rummaging through my tiny purse trying to find my keys beneath the gum and chapstick, pens and lipgloss.  That’s when he stopped me.  “You have beautiful eyes.  Keep smiling.  And keep shining.  I know that God is in you.”  I was momentarily taken aback.  “You’re right,” I finally managed to say and my hand went to my heart.  He just smiled and added, “I know.  That’s what makes you so beautiful.”

I hadn’t said a word.  I wasn’t wearing a Christian t-shirt or a cross necklace.  But somehow he knew.  I’d always felt that I didn’t shine as brightly as some people around me.  I’ve never been as bold as I should be to share my faith publicly.  I’m not the person who hands out tracts or evangelizes at every street corner.  But God used my smile to show His love.

St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  Does the light of Jesus’ love shine in your eyes?  Is your joy evident in your smile?  Are you shining in your actions as well as your words?

The Mask of Hypocrisy

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Someone once told me that Christianity was the only thing that made sense. There had to be a God. But this same person told me that they wanted nothing to do with Christianity. Do you want to know their reason? Because of the hypocrites.

If an unbeliever is living more morally than those of us who profess Christ, why would they believe they’re going to hell and we aren’t? If a belief in Jesus isn’t changing our life, why would they feel they truly need Him?

Romans 2:24 says, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of YOU” (emphasis mine). This verse broke my heart. God created me for a purpose: to glorify Him. And sometimes I don’t do so good a job at that. Instead of drawing people to Christ by my life, I’m actually pointing them in the wrong direction! How sad!!

I think there’s two sides to hypocrisy:

1. External Obedience

Is our worship sincere? Or fake? Is it for those watching? Or for God? Does our obedience flow from the heart? Or from a sense of duty? Matthew 13: 25-28 … “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it’s all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds.” This type of hypocrisy may be a little more difficult to see. Because it lies deep beneath the surface. We do all the right things. We are good at acting like we are the perfect Christian. We have our lives altogether. No sin here. The garden of our exterior may be flourishing but inside we are rotting, decaying, and dying.

Again and again in the Gospels, Jesus calls out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. Matthew 15:8-9 says, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” God knows our heart; He can see our motives. When following Him becomes a list of dos and don’ts, we are no longer truly following Him. We have made Christianity and all the “rules” that accompany it our god.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says, “Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in TRUE righteousness and holiness” (emphasis mine). This isn’t some manmade version of holiness or fake righteousness. 

Is your worship true?  Are you the real deal?  Or are you hiding behind a mask?

2. Talkers Not Walkers

God doesn’t want us to just talk the talk but also walk the walk as seen in 1 Corinthians 4:20- “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power.” You can say all the right words, you can know all the Sunday school answers. But our lives need to prove that we practice what we teach.

Matthew 23:3-5 says, “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see…” Jesus is saying: “Listen to these people. Their teachings are spot-on. But watch out because they themselves don’t follow the rules that they preach. Do as they say, not as they do.”

Can we say as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” If someone were to walk as we walk, would they be following Christ? Would we be leading them in the right direction?

Test Yourself! Is you walk ablaze? Or extinguished?

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” This is a big deal! God has given us a very important mission! He has called us to represent Him. He put us here to shine with His love. To show everyone around us what a difference Jesus makes. Watch yourself for hypocrisy. Instead of our lives discouraging people to follow Christ, we should be lights in this dark world—shining brightly for God’s glory.

Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Philippians 2:15 says, “that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Can people see the light of your faith?

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before but you may be the only Bible some people ever read!

2 Corinthians 13:5 encourages us to examine our lives: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!”