As the light turned yellow, he did the right thing and stopped at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.
The tailgating woman behind him was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, as she missed her chance to get through the intersection. While still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, fingerprinted, photographed and placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, “I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, giving the guy in front of you the finger and cursing at him. I noticed
the “What Would Jesus Do” bumper sticker, the “Choose Life” license plate holder, the “Follow Me to Sunday-School” bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.”
Who of us Christians hasn’t been guilty of not representing Jesus the way he deserves to be represented? (I’m raising my hand here.) In truth, I’m pretty sure there are some people who know me well but have had occasions to wonder. Sadly, I have an incredible ability to recognize the same fault in others but dismiss it in myself.
Hypocrisy has been defined this way: “Someone who conveniently forgets his/her faults to point out someone else’s.” (Hand is still up.) In Matthew 7:3-5, we read how Jesus viewed this behavior. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Sadly, even though we work on our sin, read the Word, pray and intercede, we can still “lose it” when someone ahead of us fails to make it through a yellow light. Or keeps our little leaguer out of the lineup. Or passes us over for the company promotion. Or parks in a handicapped spot. Or…you fill in the blank. We ignore our God-given opportunity to exemplify Christ-like character.
Author Brennan Manning writes about the damage caused by such hypocrisy. “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
Serious stuff, don’t you agree? We have no excuse. God has placed within us the Holy Spirit who uses yellow lights (our conscience) as warning signs. Our job? To put the brakes on our mouths and our actions before any further damage is done.