By Brian K. Jones
Such hypocrites! That was my feeling about most church going and religious people. They spoke about God, yet, their lives bared no reflection to what they professed. I saw tears and worship in their eyes on Sunday and heard gossip and foul language from them the rest of the week. I would listen to and watch preachers, in the sanctuary and on television, deliver some of the most powerful messages, only to discover their secret proclivities exposed on the news and in the community. Great orators, who spoke about love and acceptance of others, but saw few churches extending themselves outside the four walls of their sanctuary. I read the word of God that spoke of humility, peace and understanding, but I saw arrogance, contentious behavior and a limited perspective toward those who didn’t believe.
These things turned me off to organized religion. I began to see them as the modern-day versions of the Sadducees and Pharisees. They spoke of the laws that they never lived by, yet, set the terms for me to live by. I wanted no part of a… “Do as I say… Not as I do,” religion! So I called myself spiritual. Signifying myself above those who practiced this “God-forsaken” way of life.
Until, God revealed to me, my hypocritical ways. You see the more I read the word of God, the more it revealed the masks I wore to hide my own sins. I spent so much time being the judge over the church, that I failed to judge myself. The Holy Spirit spoke to me one day, saying… “You’re reading the Bible upside down!” He showed me that as I held the bible open for others to see, from my vantage point, it was upside down. Meaning that, it wasn’t for me to use to point out the mote in my brother’s eye, but to examine the beam in my own. (Matthew 7:3. King James Version). My judgement of other’s proclamation about their walk with God, was well above my pay grade.
This revelation caused me to pause! It brought the truth to light about my own hypocrisy. I was that Sadducee/ Pharisee! I held others to a standard that I never lived by. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Matthew 7:1-2 (King James Version).
The moral of my story is this… The bible and every verse in it… is for me to apply to my life, my ways and my thinking. When I used it towards others I created a negative correlation that occurs when I read the bible upside down. The more I use the word of God to point out the failings of someone else, the farther I place myself from getting these huge “beams of faults” out of my own life. God’s word was given to me, to help me see myself in the light of His truth. It truly was a chilling reality check when I began to examine me through the lens of His word. We are told, when we get on an airplane, that “when the masks drop, put yours on first… then help someone else.” I can’t be the example for anyone until I place the Word of God over my life first and seeing that I have a lot of work to do on me, who am I to judge anyone else’s faults.
It is easier for us to examine the lives of others, holding them to lofty standards of living that we, ourselves, can’t measure up to. We proclaim, “I am not perfect!” Yet, we seem to forget this fact as it pertains to others. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23 (King James Version). Think about how our relationships would endure, if, we remembered this when our partners fall short. I believe that we will find it a whole lot easier to forgive the poor judgements of others when we apply the life-saving mask of God’s word to our lives first and extend mercy and grace. It causes us to remember our own missteps and the mercy and grace that was extended to us. Now, as difficult as it might be, return the bible to its right position and no longer read it upside down, you and all who encounter you will be better for it.