This week I had the opportunity to have dinner with Jim; a friend, colleague, and brother in Christ from America.
Jim said he scores very low on the spiritual gift of evangelism. This was interesting to me because “evangelist for Christ” is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of him! Jim has a way of showing Christ in the way he lives out his life with his actions matching his words.
When I first came to know he was a Christ follower, it was in a business setting where a large group of people were being asked about what is most important to them. Perhaps it would have been easy to translate the question into “what is most important in business, etc.” and avoid the spiritual realm, but not Jim. He unashamedly responded with “my faith, absolutely number one”.
Jim speaks openly about his relationship with Jesus Christ. More than words though, in an attempt to describe him, all of the fruits of the spirit came to mind:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
People seem to quickly open up to Jim because he is so approachable. I believe it is because of the fruits of the spirit that he exemplifies. He’s just someone you want to talk to and share thoughts, struggles, and joys with.
Jim points to Jesus by asking questions and loving people, not by telling them what to do nor telling them they’re going to Hell. He prepares his heart, waits for an opportunity, listens, prays, and just loves and gives out of obedience to Jesus.
My boys got a glimpse into Jim goodness this week. When I told them I was having dinner with Jim, they grumbled a little bit because this meant no family dinner that night. I said, “well Jim is very special. First, he loves Jesus, and second, he has prayed for me every single week for over a year.”
The look on the boy’s faces was priceless. Someone cares enough about their dad to pray pray for him every week (even when he barely knew who I was). It might seem small but the boys understood this act of selflessness. They smiled and embraced this night away from me. I’m thankful for having people in my life who exemplify the kind of man I strive to become, the kind of man I want my boys to become… a person of integrity and love, humbly submitting to Jesus Christ, with good works that are a reflection of a truly good heart.
The opposite of this plays out in Matthew 23. In my own very basic summary, Jesus rebukes the pharisees for their hearts not being right; for hypocrisy, selfishness, and ultimately for not truly loving God.
so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. (Matthew 23:3)
Our God is serious about sin, about his message and his will for our lives. Jesus does not mince words. Sometimes we paint Jesus too mildly; he is dead serious and today’s chapter is a good example (note the many explanation points; we don’t want to be against him).
Please consider reading Matthew 23 out loud. Here’s a link to a version (NLT) with more common words that are easier to pronounce: Matthew 23.
Father God, show me where I am like the pharisees, and have mercy on me. Forgive my hypocrisy, greed, selfishness, and ignorance. Cleanse my heart as I go out today. May your will be done. In Jesus’ name, amen.