February 17 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 12)

Submitted by Jenny C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Luke 12:1-5

·     According to this passage, why is hypocrisy so foolish?

Hypocrisy is foolish because according to v. 2 and 3, everything we say will be disclosed and made known. Even the things we think are concealed, hidden, and said in secret will be exposed, “heard in the daylight” before God.

·     How is hypocrisy related to fear of men?

Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another – your words and your actions don’t match. This is related to fear of men because when you are conscious of what others think of you, what you do will be influenced by how your behavior impacts your image, your status, your popularity. You end up focusing on and striving after these outwardly things, and doing whatever you can on earning these for yourself.  This is why it is possible for people to profess themselves as Christian, yet if their reference group is their friends, they can end up compromising their profession of faith in order to gain acceptance and good standing among that group of friends.

·     What is the relationship between fear of “those who kill the body” and fear of the one who “has the power to throw you into hell”?

The relationship is that they are mutually exclusive – as one fear grows, the other diminishes. In other words, you will end up fearing one of these and making that your focus; it’s just a matter of which you eventually fear. If you are fearful of other people (“those who kill the body”), then your focus becomes on protecting yourself, boosting yourself up so that others will not take advantage of you, polishing your image so others will admire you. You will not really think about how your actions matter and are perceived by God; even if you may agree with this outwardly, it won’t have an affect on how you live. Likewise, if you have proper fear of God, (the one who “has the power to throw you into hell”), then you are going to worry less about what other people think of you and focus more about doing what is pleasing to God.

Luke 12:6-7

·     How is God portrayed in this passage?

God is someone who is intimately familiar with us – he is someone who does not even forget about the birds that are sold for pennies, how much more is he a God who would remember us, whom he calls his children. He is a God who knows even the number of hairs on our head – to this extent, he knows all about the details of our lives, he knows the situations that we face.

Luke 12:8-9

·     In what ways does fear of men come in conflict with acknowledging God?

Fear of men leads people to not acknowledge God before men and it can lead us to disown Jesus before men. I think how when I am people-driven, it leads me to just care about how I look before others; I don’t want to do anything that makes me look bad, I become afraid of making mistakes; I don’t want to be vulnerable and I end up becoming this shallow, fake person – and ultimately this is not acknowledging God in my life because I live a life without integrity. Living with the fear of men keeps me from the admitting truth about myself – from making the painful confessions that God prompts me to make, from disclosing my weakness, and fear that I will lose something that men give me – whether it’s approval, status, position, or good image. I cannot be an authentic and honest person while being driven by fear of people. In these ways, the fear of men keeps me from acknowledging and living before God.

·     In what ways, or before whom, have I not acknowledged God?

One way I have not acknowledged God is by not disclosing vulnerable things about myself. Rather than just admitting that I have an area of weakness, I feel lame about myself as I compare myself with others who do not have the same problem. I want to not make a big deal out of it and try to deal with it myself. Especially in ministry, my default mode is that I would much rather try to do the right thing, not make mistakes, to avoid failure, and to not bring up things I did that would show my lack of discretion or wisdom. In this way, I am living before people, caring what they think of me, wanting to make a good impression, and I fall under the fear of men. The reality, however, is that God sees my heart and he knows the kind of motivation that I have; he sees each deed I do and each thought that I have. In the end, He will be the one who will judge how I have shepherded the people entrusted to me. In view of this, it is foolish to think that somehow I can dodge his gaze and make do on my own. I need to be willing for my weaknesses to be known; this starts by first speaking the plain truth about myself, about my flaws, sins and mistakes. And as I let myself be known to others, this is acknowledging before people that God knows me.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Lord, I confess that often I can be driven by fear of men, what others think of me and how I look before people. I repent of this, knowing that this makes me less conscious of your gaze upon my life. I pray committing to speaking the truth about myself, especially about unpleasant, vulnerable things; and I commit to actively bringing up issues that could incriminate me or expose my weakness. I want to grow in my fear of you so that I do not live merely before people, but before you.


Submitted by Steve K. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Luke 12:1-12

Verse 1 mentions that a ‘crowd of many thousands had gathered’.  That must’ve been quite a sight to see.  At the center of this massive crowd is none other than Jesus and his 12 disciples.  These 12 disciples, who were either unknown obscure fishermen or a hated tax collector, have now become celebrities.  As I think about how I’ve felt being on stage in front of hundreds of people, I recall a sense of excitement, but also nervousness and self-consciousness.  These disciples were at the center of attention before thousands of people.  Becoming such public figures commanding the attention of that many people, I’d imagine that the disciples would’ve felt very conscious about the gaze of so many eyes being upon them.  Everything they said or did or didn’t do would be under scrutiny by such a crowd.

Being such public figures I’d also imagine that there’s a strong temptation to have a certain presentable public image at the cost of neglecting dealing with their inner reality.  Like they could be serving all the time and perhaps having a “Q&A” with people about Jesus and His teachings when Jesus was preoccupied with healing and personally connecting with other people…they could be doing all that while neglecting sins that are piling up in their hearts.

Perhaps this is the reason why Jesus turned to his disciples and warned them about the ‘yeast of the Pharisees’, because the Pharisees were also well known public figures.  Jesus specifically exhorted His disciples to be on ‘guard’ against the hypocritical ways that the Pharisees lived.

Jesus goes on to tell them that whatever is hidden will be revealed.  This was probably a timely message for these disciples, who were probably hit with the temptations and struggles of becoming famous public figures.  Jesus wants them to make sure that they are not getting caught up trying to ‘look good’ verses actually being good before God, which requires being open and honest about their internal realities of various sins they may be committing in their hearts.  Perhaps there’s pride and ego building, which makes them competitive and envious of each other.  Perhaps there’s greed for attention or they’re being selfish and irritable.  Perhaps there are lustful thoughts they needed to confess and repent of.  There are a whole host of sin issues that could be swirling around in the hearts of these disciples, but they may try to ignore all that because they have an image to protect in front of the thousands who are watching them thinking that they are spiritual people made of different stuff.  Their fear of the people in the crowd would be a major reason why these disciples would be reluctant to take an honest look at what’s going on in their hearts.  Fear of losing people’s approval is a strong driver to conceal their inner struggles and guilt.

I think this is why Jesus urges His disciples in verse 5 to fear God and not men.  He reasons with them that they should fear God who has the power to exercise final, eternal judgment on our lives.  When we have proper fear of God, then our fear of people will be overcome, so that we can have the courage to live in truth and not be hypocritical people like the Pharisees.

Jesus also gives us encouragement to not be afraid of what others think of us or what ways they may be able to harm us by reminding us that God knows us and cares for us much more than sparrows, which are not forgotten by God.

Application:

I think this passage is very relevant for me as a Christian leader, because I too am a public figure in our church.  Even in our new church plant, I too experience the pressure and the burden of having many different eyes look to me for spiritual guidance and compassion.  Along with this comes the temptation to hide what’s going on in my heart, lest I reveal that I’m actually weak and sinful.  When my public image is divorced from my inner reality, then I’m allowing the yeast of the Pharisees infect my life.  I will end up becoming a hypocrite as I preach how God cares above all a personal relationship with us, which is based on living in truth.  Living in truth, or walking in the light, will inevitably result in a daily confession of sins and a need to repent, because the truth is I’m a sinner through and through.  It’s not for a lack of sins that I’m not engaged in daily confession and being desperate to cling to Jesus for mercy and grace.  If I remain silent about my sins, it’ll be because I have allowed my fears of people to overcome my fear of God.  When that happens, it’s really the beginning of the end.  My lack of fear of God causes me to fear all sorts of things that causes me to become dishonest, deceitful and self-centered.  I end up walking in darkness when that happens, and I will feel deeply insecure and orphaned.  This would be such a tragic end, which I want to steer clear of with all my heart.  Not only for my own sake, but for the sake of the Body of Christ.

PERSONAL PRAYER                   

Lord, I thank you for the strong warning you give me as one of the shepherds of your people.

Lord I pray that I would daily have the courage to live in truth before you as I choose to fear you above all things.  May my fear of you cause all the lesser, destructive fears to dissipate and loosen their grip on my soul.  May my fear of you bring much wisdom, which I so desperately need to live a good life that honors you.  And Lord I pray that I would daily remember how you love me and know me so intimately such that you even know the number of hairs that are on my head.  May the knowledge of your intimate, perfect love for me drive out fears that tempt me to be unfaithful towards you and to become more self-absorbed and insecure.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Submitted by John C. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Jesus tells us one aspect about hypocrisy—it simply doesn’t work. In verses 2 and 3 he says how “there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” The Pharisees were hypocrites. Their outward actions demonstrated that they were pious towards God, but the reality of their hearts, what they were whispering to each other in the dark revealed a much darker reality of pride, selfishness, and power-seeking. Their hearts were exposed for what they were. As we study them in our scriptures, we see a clear picture of who they really were. The effort they put into hiding the ugliness of their hearts was totally futile as Jesus exposed them again and again.

I think one danger in Christian life is hypocrisy. Perhaps it’s not the blatant kind of hypocrisy of words and actions completely mismatching—like going clubbing after Bible Study or something. Rather it’s more subtle and Pharisaic—it’s when the reality of my heart doesn’t match my words and actions. The driving motivation for hypocrisy is image maintenance—I want to portray a certain image about myself, as someone who’s mature, who’s caring, and who’s humble. Hypocrisy enters when there are hidden things in my heart that betray this image such as selfishness or pettiness, but I still want to maintain my image—so I keep these things hidden. The fear of man causes us to engage in deceit and hypocrisy because we can successfully prevent the hidden things of our heart from being exposed to them—or can we? Jesus states plainly that “what you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” This is certainly true of the Pharisees as history through the Gospels shows, but Jesus is also making a statement about reality. Our hypocrisy will be exposed and made known. There are many things to say about hypocrisy, but one truth is that image maintenance and deceit simply doesn’t work. Not only does God see everything in our hearts, but in one way or another sooner or later, our hypocrisy will be exposed. Things we try to hide just have a way of bubbling up to the surface and coming out through our words or actions. I’ve found this to be true in my life, and it reminds me of how foolish it is to think that I can keep anything hidden.

However, the fact that I can’t successfully hide anything is actually a very liberating thought. I might as well come into the light and let things about me be known. I’m so thankful that in this body of Christ I am surrounded by people whom I trust, who care for me, and before whom I can be frank and honest and before whom I don’t need to posture and maintain any sort of image.

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