Welcome to DAY 14 of our online Bible study on James!
— Read: James 3:7-12 —
“Sure, Sally,” I replied, answering our church secretary’s email. “You’re so efficient. Thanks for noticing my error. I’m happy to send another check to make up the difference in what I owe.”
After sending that email, I immediately forwarded it to my husband with this message: Mike! Read Sally’s email, below. Can you believe what that _______ said? She has never charged me for individual Easter lilies. I’ve always paid for two plants, listing several people in each category—those I’m honoring, those I’m memorializing. Now she’s insisting I buy a plant for recognizing every, single person! Ridiculous!
I hit “send” with a powerful push. I was livid.
Every spring, members from our congregation purchased Easter lilies to adorn our church’s chancel and to honor loved ones. But this year, thanks to Sally, it would cost me a small fortune.
Michael emailed back with his admonition to calm down. He said it would be okay, and we’d absorb the cost. Next year, he thought perhaps we’d need to reduce how many loved ones we recognized.
After I finished reading Mike’s email, I suddenly noticed that somehow we both had copied Sally on our communication. I was mortified. She’d read my ugly diatribe and the expletive I called her. I was caught red-handed.
Oh, my, what is wrong with me?
I started to shake. I had the tongue of an adder. But worse, I was a hypocrite. One minute, I’d praised Sally. The next, I’d cursed her.
Jesus had strong words for hypocrisy: “Woe to you . . . Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27).
I felt unclean, because I was.
I begged God’s forgiveness and the grace to change. This wasn’t the first time my email trail had revealed the sin of hypocrisy.
Was I sorry I’d gotten caught again? Yes. I was embarrassed that my reputation was sullied. But this time, it was different. I wasn’t just remorseful; I was repentant.
I wrote Sally a letter of apology. I didn’t mail it, but went straight to church to deliver it in person, confessing my sin to her. As I cried, she held me in her embrace. Her forgiveness was an extension of Christ’s, and the only hope of healing for a hypocritical, divided heart: wholeness in Him.
— Diving Deeper —
Have you ever said an unkind word you wished you could take back?
Yeah, we’ve probably all been there.
Today let’s ask God to cleanse our hearts so that
everything that pours out is truly a reflection of Christ.
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