Summary: Examining what it means to live a "real" and authentic Christian life
The text reveals four characteristics that describe a "real" Christian - a believer who not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. By asking four questions we can give ourselves a realtiy check.
1. Are you HONEST? (v. 3)
We must be honest in the way we live our lives.
Message paraphrase: "But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior."
We must do more than talk about the Word; we must live the Word (James 1:22).
2. Are you HELPFUL? (v. 4)
The Pharisees weren’t helpful. They were indifferent.
To be indifferent means that we are uncaring, unresponsive to the needs of others, apathetic, uninterested, and unconcerned.
Some Christians have grown indifferent to the sin in their lives, to the lost condition of the world, etc.
The Great Commandment is to love God and to love others: the first 4 of the 10 commandments reveal how we can "help" God by worship and adoring him; the last 6 reveal how we can be helpful to others.
3. Are you HUMBLE? (v. 5-12)
The Pharisees served just to be noticed (v. 5a).
The Pharisees proudly and arrogantly displayed their "spirituality" (v. 5b-7).
The Pharisees used their position to get praise for themselves. They were prideful.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less. A humble person seeks God first, then seeks the goodwill of others, and thinks of self last.
We must be humble because we are all students (v. 8); we are all siblings (v. 9); we are all servants (v. 10-12).
4. Are you HYPOCRITICAL? (v. 25-28)
Jesus referred to the Pharisees as hypocrites seven times in verses 13-29.
In the Greek theater the role of the hypocrite was played by a person who wore a mask and played a part on stage, imitating the speech, mannerisms, and conduct of the character portrayed.
A hypocrite is someone who acts one way in a sphere of life and acts entirely different in another sphere of life.
Jesus used the example of a dirty cup (v. 25-26) and the whitewashed tomb (v. 27-28) to explain their hypocrisy.
To be real, we must avoid hypocrisy at all cost by being the same person 24/7.