First Off…read Psalm 28!
Our psalm today is one that is typically seen as a “partner” with Psalm 26. Where Psalm 26 is more of a proclamation as to the differences between those who proclaim and live by the Lord and those who do not – Psalm 28 finds the writer IN THE MIDST of either danger or being surrounded by evil-doers.
This psalm is not like many others where we have a historical context to pull from…or even an understanding of worship (some liturgical use) – but this psalm is simple in its desire: may my heart and my mouth proclaim the same message…YOUR truth.
And for simply how short this psalm is that focus in verse 3 is the heart of the problem (pun intended). Lord…do not surround me, or lump me in, or find me in the midst of or even in the party with…hypocrites.
But what’s really interesting here…is that where there is this plea for this not to happen – there is also a request of judgment in relation TO those issues. We may not flat out read “judge me, Lord, and find my heart and my actions clean…” but what we DO have is the crying out to God to help – which essentially is asking to be judged. To be judged and found to be not wicked or having malice in their heart.
So the psalmist is perfect? No malice, no speaking like those that surround him?
This is really where I am struck. How many of us have spoken out of the “side of our face”? How many of us have talked bad about one person only to say something different to the actual person? How many of us have appeared “two-faced” in those situations? How many times do we find ourselves going ALONG with others in our actions even though our hearts speak of something different?
I think we need to acknowledge both situations that we so easily can find ourselves in because often times our hearts and our mouth don’t line up. To me this is the biggest issue facing Christians. Our words, our actions, and our heart simply are not lining up with each other.
A hypocrite is not only a liar, they are a pretender, a deceiver, a phony, a fraud, a sham, and a fake…and none of these have any place with God. And they have no place with God not only because none of these are attributes or actions OF God but also because WE are called to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor 5:20)…we are called to be prophetic in our work – speaking out for those who have no voice, lifting up those who have not the strength to do it, healing the sick, praying for our enemies and friends, giving love when hate is thrust upon us. We are to be Christ in all situations to all people – but we cannot do that if we are hypocritical in this world. Too many times I have heard from my non-Christian friends that followers of Jesus really aren’t “following” Jesus. Mahatma Gandhi said it best: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
That should sting. And if it stings…then you know it’s true. If it stings – then you probably also find yourself, as I do, in that area where I do find myself being hypocritical. It’s not that I mean to…but I do. And we know that those actions simply serve ourselves (Rom 16:18) and not God or even the other person.
I had a conversation with someone recently where they said that there seems to be a disconnect between their own heart and head. Their heart is screaming as to what God desires of them, what Christ calls them to do and be…and yet their head is battling that truth.
I think we can all find ourselves in that paradox. Almost like there is a disconnect between the heart and the head.
So what do you do? I think we take a page from our psalm reading. In verse 2 we have the psalmist crying out for mercy…for forgiveness…for God’s wrath to relent and not find them at fault as they know He should. They then close out that verse by “lifting” their hands towards God’s “Most Holy Place.” This is important – because the holy place was a place of goodness, forgiveness, healing, and strength. And then to top it all off…the psalmist uses the last 3 verses to simply speak of the truth of who God is. So it’s a cry for God’s judgment, to see who they are…to have mercy…to cleanse and heal…and guide them (as a shepherd does) in all ways.
Not only is God our strength and shield (7), not only is god our joy and fortress of salvation (8), not only is he our shepherd forever (9) but he is love, grace, mercy, and full of compassion. And so while we declare those truths (just a few of who God is)…we also must declare that WE are to be those truths too. Those are truths God put inside of us. Those are truths the Holy Spirit breathes into us each and every day. THOSE are truths we are filled up with, encouraged to use, and strengthened to give and live out in our actions with each other and Him.
That is God’s truth…that is also our truth. Understanding those and living them out are going to be the only way to stop the hypocrisy…as well as the disjointed feeling many have between Christ and those who claim to follow his example.