Too often, Christians are called hypocrites. Too often, they are.
But Paul wasn’t.
Apparently, when he came to Thessalonica, he noticed from the beginning some problems with people who were lazy. It was so bad, he actually straight out laid down a rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” (10)
But Paul didn’t just lay down this rule, he lived it. Although he had every right to earn his living from the gospel, he never insisted on taking advantage of that right. Instead, Paul said,
You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. (7-8)
We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. (9)
And because they lived this way, they could come down hard on those who didn’t. He told the Thessalonians to keep away from such people. He criticized these idlers sharply, saying they weren’t busy, but rather busybodies. And he commanded them in the Lord to start working. (11-12)
Many people often quote the passage where Jesus says, “Don’t judge or you will be judged.” But what Jesus was condemning was not righteous judging, but hypocritical judging. He was condemning those who were quick to judge others’ faults but couldn’t see their own. (Matthew 7:1-5)
But in Paul we see someone who not only judged, but was truly an example of what a Christian is.
Now Paul makes clear that we are to only judge those within the church not those outside. (I Corinthians 5:9-13)
But if we are to judge those within the church, the one thing that we need to be careful of is that we are not hypocrites, but truly examples of the life that God has called us to live. And people should be able to look at our lives, and not only see someone who talks the talk, but walks the walk as well.
This is not to say that we must be perfect before we can judge. But we do need to constantly keep a humble attitude before God and others, looking more to our own faults than to the faults of others. The closer you get to Jesus and his light, the more clearly you should be able to see the dirt in your own life. And if you can’t see any dirt, then you’re not as close to Jesus as you should be, and you’re in danger of falling into the kind of hypocrisy that marked people like the Pharisees.
How about you? Are you a hypocrite? Or an example?