“What are they really like when no one is watching?” “I just never know who I’m going to see each night when my husband comes home.” “If that guy had a mask for each personality he has it would fill the whole closet.” You have heard the questions and the remarks as often as I have. Jesus called this whole kind of thing being a hypocrite. Interestingly, the word “hypocrite” was the word used for actors who went on stage wearing a mask both to project their voice out to the people and to portray the person they were trying to be. It is great for an actor to be able to take on different personalities and become that person for a time. It is a great skill and gives us all kinds of entertainment as well as huge lessons in life. But when people become such actors in ordinary life it is a completely different matter. When we are around a person to takes on a different persona in every situation they face, we go away wondering who they really are.
One of the huge things that set Jesus apart from other religious teachers and leaders of his time was that he was the real thing, all the way to the bone. Can you imagine someone coming up to him after a day teaching saying, “That isn’t what you said yesterday.” He was the constant model of stressing what a person IS rather than just what they DO. In his great Sermon on the Mount, he started with “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs are the kingdom of God. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” He would go on from this to talk about things that we need to do in his service, but the foundation of it all was about what a person is.
Let’s face the fact, it is near impossible to trust a person in any aspect of life if you believe they are one way with you and something entirely different when they are with other people. If a person talks tons about God, faith, and family, but in their personal life there is the abuse of power, dishonest dealings and even taking advantage of other people, especially of young, innocent or defenseless people, then something is horribly wrong. I understand there may be accusations made against another person that they have done something wrong when nothing actually happened. I’m thankful that the atmosphere is changing so that women are coming out with the charges of men taking advantage of them and then keeping it somehow hidden so that they can go right on doing the same thing to someone else. Personally, I hope every religious leader, every politician, every manager, every newsperson or any other area of power who has taken advantage of another person sexually is found out and driven from their place of power. The ridiculous notion that such action is private and has nothing to do with what they do in their job is both, insane and ungodly.
Who are you? Who am I? Who are we when no one is looking? Character runs deep! If we lack character then we may well have a picture of who we are that is totally different from how others see us or even more important, how God sees us. I know we all have flaws and make mistakes. But that is a totally different thing than having a pattern of life that we are constantly trying to keep things hidden about us for fear that if it comes out our whole lives will be ruined. Even the best of people make mistakes, but they don’t try to hide the mistakes or pretend they never happened. They, upon realizing they did something wrong set about to change it. It is true that Jesus is the only perfect person that ever lived. But he calls all who follow him to be real, to be people of character and people who have integrity in all aspects of their life.
I remember having a person say about another person, “I wouldn’t trust them with my wife or daughter, but I trust them with my money.” The statement stuck in my mind and even at the moment I responded, “If you can’t trust a person in one area of their life, then you can’t trust them period.” But the other person couldn’t see that at all. It wasn’t a lot of years after that conversation that I ran into the same person and they said, “Well, I guess you were right.” I didn’t know what they were talking about at the time. They went on to remind me of the conversation we had had those years earlier and then said, “Sure enough I shouldn’t have trusted them with my money either. I lost everything I had with them and he got away like a bandit.” Trust isn’t something you can give piecemeal. Integrity isn’t something that we have in one area of life but it is missing in others. If we have areas of life we want to keep in the dark, it is past time to bring them out and clean them up, making it right with God and other people. When such things start unfolding from the words of someone else making accusations it will be far more unpleasant and far more difficult to ever regain trust from those around us. Be real!