THE AFFECTION OF HYPOCRITES
Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
All of us Christians say that we want to glorify God with our lives. There are vastly different opinions on what that would look like. For some, they think the more earthly possessions they accumulate, the more God is glorified, kind of like a real life Santa Claus or Easter Bunny. For others, they think living the life of self denial and poverty brings great glory to God. In actuality, both of those positions are formed from a man centered theology. One says God is good because He gives us all of these toys. The other extreme says that the life of a Christian consists of suffering and self denial, somehow that is supposed to glorify God. The Biblical position is this, that God is glorified in the life of a Christian when that Christian is satisfied totally in God Himself. God is their portion, your financial position is totally insignificant. When that is true, as John Piper often says, “God is glorified and I am satisfied”. John Piper spoke about the affections of hypocrites in his comments on the writings of Jonathan Edwards in his book “God’s Passion for His Glory”. Here is a short excerpt from that book.
“Edwards observes, with stunning modern relevance, “True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the things of God. But the dependence of the affections of hypocrites is in a contrary order: they first rejoice that they are made so much of by God; and then on that ground, he seems in a sort, lovely to them.” In other words, in Edwards’ view, the bottom line of happiness is that we are granted to see the infinite beauty of God and make much of him forever. Human beings do, in fact, have more value than the birds (Matt. 6:26). But that is not the bottom line of our happiness. It simply means that we were created to magnify God’s glory by enjoying him in a way birds never can.”
What a powerful message for today’s Christian world. Hypocrites are attracted to God by the message that God makes much of them. That embraces a large part of the preaching today and almost all of the preaching on television. Jonathan Edwards preached from a whole different perspective about the grace of God. He would say that grace is the divine influence on the heart that enables us to behold the infinite beauty of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Without God’s grace we are blind. Our only idea of reward or benefits are earthly things. When the amazing grace of God settles into our hearts we begin to cry out with John Newton, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found was blind but now I see.”