Last year, I was meeting with a young man – a brand new Christian. He and I had been studying the Bible for months and he’d begun attending church and experimenting with living out the Christian life. But everything was new to him. He’d begin most days conscientiously thinking about God and virtuous living. Then occasionally slip back into old habits and sin. At times he enthusiastically embraced this new life and other times he wasn’t all that excited. He felt like a phony and a failure. It also felt hypocritical trying to be obedient when his heart wasn’t always in it, or even scared to death about what his friends might think or say.
“I feel like a hypocrite, when I fail, or my heart isn’t really in it. That’s a sin isn’t it?”
“Not necessarily,” was my answer. “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. ‘Which of the two obeyed his father?’ They replied, ‘The first.’ Then Jesus explained his meaning: ‘I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.’” Matthew 21:28-31
The point of this parable is that while God’s ideal is that we should be joyfully obedient, in the end doing what God asks, even if reluctantly, demonstrates faith.
Fake it until you make it I told my young friend that when I first became a true believer, I began acting more obediently than I always felt. For example: When I first got saved, I had a serious problem with using filthy language. I knew it was wrong to speak that way even before I came to true faith, but I didn’t care. Once I came to faith, the Holy Spirit convicted me that a child of God should not express themselves that way. So I began to change even though there were times I so desperately wanted to fit in with of my friends. Those were the times I really would have preferred my old habits, but chose not to simply out of obedience.
I found that as I took these “baby steps of obedience,” God began to change my heart and I grew to enjoy obedience. I had to fake it until I made it!
Some people would say I was being hypocritical. I don’t think so. Hypocrisy is saying you believe one thing, but doing just the opposite. But faking it until you make it, is trying to live out what you’ve publicly declared, even if reluctantly, or imperfectly.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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