Saturday, December 3, 2011

What's Our Testimony?

On my nightstand is a business card from a local pastor. I work at a big box hardware store, and last week he came in to order two quarts of paint, color matched from some old cans that were left in the garage of his rental. New in the area and here for a church "plant" (new church), we had a great chat, so much so, I wrote down my Pastor's website and encouraged him to visit, guaranteeing that the sermons would be encouraging.

Today, he brought back the two cans of paint to my supervisor (I was conducting a workshop). He was very rude to her, demanding new paint because the colors didn't match the colors on his wall (keep in mind, the customer approves the color BEFORE leaving the store with the paint). He didn't have the original cans of paint, so she asked him to go home and get actual samples from his wall. When he returned, I happened to be back at the desk. He had two different brands of paint. I never mix paint in different brands - the customer is asked which brand he wants, and the entire order is made in that brand. I opened the one can, and it was NOT the color of the sample from his wall. I'm still not sure if he swapped labels, or emptied out the contents and replaced it, or incorrectly assumed the can in the garage was the correct color, but having done this for two years, I know my tints.

Before I realized that he was trying to steal, I was asking him questions trying to figure out why this paint was so different from the sample. Finally I asked him, "Was the can you brought in left behind by the owner?" He said, "Yes." He did not tell me that up front. It's possible that he thought the can was for the living room, brought it in for me to match, then realized that he had messed up (or poured another color of paint into the can he brought back, so he could touch up another room for free). Later, he inadvertently told another customer in line that the previous renters had tried to touch up and there were spots on the wall from contrasting colors. He knew that the paint didn't match before he came in.

So, this "man of God," came in to the store, had a huge fit and lied to my boss about my error, lied about the paint being incorrectly matched by me, ALL FOR $11.00, so he could touch up his living room or have free paint for another room. Toward the end of our second encounter, he knew he was caught. The paint was so obviously different. Later, my supervisor told me that his whole demeanor was different when he saw I was present during the second visit. After I fixed his colors, I went on break and felt nauseous and sick. Jesus had some things to say in the New Testament about Pastors being hypocritical:
"You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25).  
"You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean (Matthew 23:27).
"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered and you have hindered those who were entering (Luke 11:52). 
I prayed that God would not let him be a Pastor in this condition, because the eternal penalty for leading sheep astray is so severe: also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected (2 Timothy 3:8). I also prayed that God would burn his heart with repentance, but that if it was already hardened, that He would prevent him from ministering, as those that do are judged more strictly (James 3:1).

His website states, "We continually bear witness to those around us...we exalt the Lord through our service to Him, seeking to be instruments of His will and purpose." The witness he portrayed to my coworkers (ranging from unsaved, backslidden, to Christian) was one of bad temper, lies, greed, and a derogatory word spoken by the supervisor that I won't print. Psalm 101:7 says that, "No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence."

Only God knows the heart and the destiny of this man. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15). I know that my customers, strangers, coworkers, friends, and family members are watching how "real" my Christianity is and that hypocrisy is a deadly testimony. Recently, I was at an antique store Christmas shopping with my handicapped Mom. The cashier accidentally charged my debit card $1100.50!!! I was there for 1 and 1/2 hours, while the clerk tried to call the credit card merchant, bank, and my bank to reverse or void the charges - to no avail. I ended up waiting for the owner to drive over and draft a check, which I then had to drive to his bank and cash, and then deposit the cash into my account. I realized that this was testimony time, and I prayed throughout the ordeal for patience, kindness, and forgiveness. My Mom was so spent, she couldn't go out the next day.

Of course, I fail at times. Mostly when pride or fear is involved.  But the majority of the time when situations force sin out of my heart's hidey-holes, I repent. Oftentimes, I am battling against the same bastion of sin. I wish I could be delivered entirely - BAM, no more dealing with that familiar enemy of my soul. But some sins are like onions, the deliverance peels off in layers. This is why we must persevere, run the race, fight the good fight. Otherwise, if left unchecked, we might find ourselves spending hours concocting lies to receive a free can of $11.00 paint. And worse, with a heart so hardened, we won't realize that our destructive behavior is hindering the building up of the kingdom of God.


  1. How discouraging it must have been, especially knowing that he was a pastor. I've had it drilled into me from early on that our testimonies and integrity are supremely important, whether we're in public or alone. It's so easy to forget and slip up, though, especially when it comes to having patience with lazy people and selfish people.

    Isn't sanctification just wonderful... ;)

  2. Logan,
    I only wish I wasn't such a tough nut to crack :)

  3. For the past few weeks, I've been talking in my sunday school class about hypocrisy, from Matthew 23 (killer chapter - I'd love to perform it as a monologue on stage sometime). It seems logical that if Jesus was so upset by it back then that He'd still be bothered by it today...

    I've been trying to distill the essence of it down, and the best I've got so far is that hypocrisy is when you KNOW a truth and then find some way to make it OK to be an exception to that truth... "other people can't do this; it's sin. But I'm a special case; therefore, it's OK with God if I do this. But no one else can. Just me."

    Something like that...

    Anyway, great post. With a certain amount of fear and trembling, I've been asking God to show me where I'm hypocritical. It's probably selfish of me to say this, but perhaps He put this on your heart to write about as part of an answer to that prayer...

    Thanks for writing.

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  5. Dave,

    I think your prayer for God to show you is the key.

    I'm not sure we always know when we're being hypocritical, I believe, oftentimes, we are deceived about our hypocrisy.

    We may be deceived because we believe that our sinful behavior does not effect our relationship with God (because we don't read our Bibles, but embrace false doctrines). We may be deceived because we unconsciously substitute our "works" or Christian heritage for holiness. And that build up of non-repentive behavior invites deception and heart-heartedness.

    And, of course, you are spot on, prayer and repentance are the keys. Allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us when we're misbehaving can be embarrassing, painful, and REPETITIVE (as I've found :). But we can all agree, it's worth it.

    Glad the post was helpful.