I have always been “impressed” with impersonators. The first person that I saw do impressions was Rich Little; the man is fabulous. To this day, I think he is, perhaps, the most talented impersonator to ever live. (You can see a small sampling of his work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 78sSn3E_Vvc) Many others have tried to follow in Rich’s footsteps, and I’m impressed with most of them, but in my opinion none have excelled like Rich.
Well, there may be one exception to that, a man by the name of Frank Caliendo. I think that, just maybe, he’s got what it takes to be the next Rich Little. (If you have never seen Frank’s performances, here’s a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uc1FBGEUGs&feature=related)
Anyhow, as entertaining as impressions can be, pretending to be someone we are not, has no place in our spiritual lives….
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward…. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward…. (Mat 6:1-7)
It is only natural for us to want to receive the approval of others around us. As children, we were naturally inclined to want to please our parents and other adults around us. Because of this innate desire, we have a big choice to make… be ourselves or be an impersonator.
As a child I could chose honestly, and openly, to obey my parents by submitting to their desires. By doing this, I would be pleasing them. My other choice was to do an impression of an obedient child, while disobeying them behind their back. In this case, their approval was not legitimate, but coerced by me.
I’m afraid many of us, as “religious” people, are living like the disobedient child. We are outwardly, appearing to others as if we are “spiritual” servants of God; while, in reality, we do not have a true faith-based relationship with the Lord of the Universe. We are leaving a “spiritual” impression on the people by being “religious”, while secretly in our hearts, we are not right with God. [There is a tremendous difference between being “religious” (ie performing outward acts of worship) and being “spiritual” (ie having a personal relationship with God)].
The perfect examples of this are the “religious” Pharisees of the scriptures. Note in our text, they were doing public acts of worship and prayers that made them look “spiritual”, appearing as if they have a relationship with God. They were, probably the best impersonators of their day.
Their impersonations fooled many people into thinking they were “spiritual” giants. But do you notice the One that was not fooled by them? It was the Lord who searches the hearts of all men (Jer 17:10).
Note His response “ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven”; and He goes further to explain that their only reward they will receive is the earthly praise of other men. The Lord knew exactly what the Pharisees were doing… they could fool other men, even themselves, but certainly not their God.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:
All mankind will stand before their Lord someday (Hebs 9:27) … because of this, we all need to make certain that we have a valid relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many individuals who are on perilous spiritual grounds; they have impersonated being a follower of Christ until they have not only fooled others, but have also fooled themselves. Note our Lord’s account of what will take place at the final judgment to those who have deceived themselves through the performance of religious acts…
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:22-23)
So what are we to do? How can we avoid such an end? The Lord makes it clear what He desires to see in each of our lives…
… what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deu 10:12-13)
He desires to see a person that is fully trusting and loving Him with all their heart and soul. When this type of heart-felt love and trust is present, you will see it manifested by acts of outward obedience. In other words, true faith and love produces acts of willful obedience in the life of true children of God. This is unlike the Pharisees whose outward acts did not spring from faith, but from deceit with a motive to mislead and impress.
Are all outward acts of worship sinful? Of course not, the Lord is pleased with our outward acts of worship, when they are based upon love for Him and a desire to set a proper example for others. It all comes down to the “thoughts and intents” of our hearts. So my final question for each of us to consider today is not…. “Do we pray?” or “Do we attend church?” or “Have we walked down an aisle?” or “Have we been baptized?” or “Do we read our Bible” or “ Do we receive our churches’ sacraments?” or “ Have we said the sinner’s prayer?” My final question for us to consider is …“Is our heart right with God?”
“…as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes…” (1Ki 14:8)
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