(1) Do you do things in private that you would never do in public?
(2) Do you do things in public that you would never do in private?
Both are questions of hypocrisy, "to wear a mask." Both have a common solution as well: consistency. Some people are all around jerks, all the time, of course. But for those of us striving to be better, the challenge is to be the same good person, no matter where we are, and no matter who our audience is.
Some of my goals are:
- To demonstrate an attitude of love, regardless of circumstances. Even if something has gone wrong, or someone has done me wrong, I want to always treat the other person as one created in the image of God, worthy of love and respect, even if I have sincere disagreement. I want to treat people as people, and I want to be a vessel through which people can experience grace and acceptance.
- To be positive and hopeful, helping others around me to be the same. I want this for the people in whose lives I play a public role, but I want to be sure that I treat my family as well as I treat those to whom I minister. It is unacceptable to take out home problems on my friends, church members, or co-workers, just as it is unacceptable to take out church frustrations on my family. Both deserve my best, and both benefit from people who believe that a future with God can be a good future.
- To be honest in all things, willing to speak truthfully. So many problems are created and perpetuated because people fear that their honesty will cause harm. After all, many things don't have to be said, and honesty stings for those who don't like to admit room for growth. But it's always better to speak truthfully before a situation becomes a problem than to flee from discomfort until a small problem becomes the elephant in the room that is now much harder to deal with. Honesty is also the best way to make up for a limited memory. Dishonesty requires a lot more record keeping and avoidances. Honest people have nothing to run from.
- To extend mercy to all people, including myself. After giving the "golden rule", Jesus explains that the reason we should treat others as we want to be treated is because God intends to use our own actions towards others as the basis for how he judges us. No one has ever wronged me as badly as I've wronged God, and there is no one for whom I can only reserve God's judgment if I personally wish to experience God's mercy. My personal struggle comes less from showing others mercy, though, because I have a much harder time accepting mercy for myself. All sins sound very forgivable to me except my own. Yet if God, whom I admire and imitate, tells me that I'm forgiven, who am I to tell him what he can't do? I want to be characterized by mercy, grace, and peace, because this is what God is like.
My walk as a Christian will be different than everyone else's walk. But I think for every Christian, a path to blessing is to (a) fix your eyes on Jesus and all that makes him who he is, and to (b) try to be this way at all times to all people.
I hope yours is a blessed week.