This is the first in a series of prayer meeting posts that cover the “Kingdom of Heaven” parables found in the book of Matthew. Join us every Wednesday at 6:30 PM via livestream for this continued study.
“The church is full of hypocrites!” an exasperated member exclaimed. We were sitting across from each other enjoying a delicious potluck. Thankfully he caught me just as I was putting a heaping spoon full of chili into my mouth. I nodded my head for him to continue, “They judge others who don’t live the way they do, and make pious professions—but their own lives are just as broken. In the church, they smile and wave, but I know in their homes there are arguments, fights, and little devotions.” I could tell he was just warming up. His frustration quite evident, as the food sat un-attended on his plate. I also wondered how he knew. I supressed the urge to ask if he was judging the very people he accused of judging him.
He’s not the only one. You know people, as do I, who have walked away from Christianity because of the hypocrisy they see within the ranks. Of course, as Christians, we should always live what we profess. But are we taking upon ourselves the work that belongs to God alone?
Let me illustrate
I came across this powerful story about a year ago. You can find it on the website: The Untold Story of India.
“Last year, I was at the Heathrow International Airport in London about to board a flight. Usually, I wear a sari even when I am abroad, but I prefer wearing a salwar kameez while traveling. So there I was — a senior citizen dressed in typical Indian apparel at the terminal gate.
“After a few minutes, the boarding announcement was made and I joined the queue. The woman in front of me was a well-groomed lady in an Indo-Western silk outfit, a Gucci handbag, and high heels. Every single strand of her hair was in place and a friend stood next to her in an expensive silk sari, pearl necklace, matching earrings and delicate diamond bangles. I looked at the vending machine nearby and wondered if I should leave the queue to get some water.
“Suddenly, the woman in front of me turned sideways and looked at me with what seemed like pity in her eyes. Extending her hand, she asked, ‘May I see your boarding pass, please?’
“I was about to hand over my pass to her, but since she didn’t seem like an airline employee, I asked, ‘Why?’
“‘Well, this line is meant for business class travelers only,’ she said confidently and pointed her finger towards the economy class queue. ‘You should go and stand there,’ she said.
“I was about to tell her that I had a business class ticket, but on second thoughts, held back. I wanted to know why she had thought that I wasn’t worthy of being in the business class. So I repeated, ‘Why should I stand there?’
“She sighed. ‘Let me explain. There is a big difference in the price of an economy and a business class ticket. The latter costs almost two and a half times more than . . .’ I think it is three times more,’ her friend interrupted. ‘Exactly,’ said the woman. ‘So there arecertain privileges that are associated with a business class ticket.’
“‘Really?’ I decided to be mischievous and pretended not to know.
“‘What kind of privileges are you talking about?’”
“She seemed annoyed. ‘We are allowed to bring two bags but you can only take one. We can board the flight from another, less-crowded queue. We are given better meals and seats. We can extend the seats and lie down flat on them. We always have television screens and there are four washrooms for a small number of passengers.’”
Her friend added, ‘A priority check-in facility is available for our bags, which means they will come first upon arrival and we get more frequent flyer miles for the same flight.’
‘Now that you know the difference, you can go to the economy line,’ insisted the woman.
‘But I don’t want to go there.’ I was firm.
The lady turned to her friend. ‘It is hard to argue with these cattle-class people. Let the staff come and instruct her where to go. She isn’t going to listen to us.’
It’s easy, as outsiders, to look at those two women with consternation. How could someone so clearly judge another person? But not so fast. Judging others can take many different forms. The one most dangerous for you is the one you don’t see. For example, the most common form of judging is accusing other people of judging you! How often have you thought, “I just wish so and so would stop judging me.” Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Either way, you are judging their thoughts and motives.
Christ, in Matthew 13, cautions against this.
Let’s re-cap the parable
Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way.”Matthew 13:24-25
Vs 37 breaks down what each symbol means.
- Sower: Jesus
- Good Seed: Saved Christians (Matthew 5:13, 14-16)
- Field: The World
- Bad seed: Nominal Christians (John 15:2,6).
How do we know who are the tares?
Christ says we aren’t to focus on this and that if we do, souls will be lost. Why? Because we can’t tell the difference.
Notice that the distinction between the tares and the wheat is the bearing of fruit.
What is the fruit? Souls that are saved for eternity. Don’t miss this. The distinction between the wheat and the tares is that the wheat is focused on saving souls. They don’t get lost in trying to fix the people around them. They aren’t worried about whether they are being judged nor are they judging others. They have one focus—to connect every person they come in contact with to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
If you are saved, there will be some soul in the courts of glory that has found an entrance there through your instrumentality. Then why not entreat the Lord to put upon you his Spirit, that you may be able to awaken an interest in the truth in the minds of those around you? Think of your neighbors and friends and relatives who are out of Christ. How much do you care for their souls? You should be so filled with love for the lost that you cannot forbear working for their salvation. What you need is Jesus.Bible Echo and Signs of the Times – June 15, 1892. Par 2.
This is what it is all about–pointing people to Jesus. He is the one, who ultimately will separate out the tares from the wheat.
I wonder. Are we exhibiting characteristics of tares, when we complain about the “Hypocrites” in the church? Could it be that the wheat are those who go about winning souls, and give no regard to what others are saying or doing? Could they be the ones who are focused solely on Jesus, His Word, and sharing His love to the world around…
“The line in front of me at the airport began moving forward and I came out of my reverie. The two women ahead were whispering among themselves, ‘Now she will be sent to the other line. It is so long now! We tried to tell her but she refused to listen to us.’
“When it was my turn to show my boarding pass to the attendant, I saw them stop and wait a short distance away, waiting to see what would happen. The attendant took my boarding pass and said brightly, ‘Welcome back! We met last week, didn’t we?’
“‘Yes,’ I replied. She smiled and moved on to the next traveller.”
Reference: The Untold Stories of India