Many times in sermons, have I heard an appeal being made that we, as Christians, should awaken others to jealousy by our lifestyle. Our behavior should be so attractive that others would want to imitate us. This, I believe not at all. Yet, do not misunderstand me: I believe it is important that our behavior is consistent with what we profess and teach (Tit.1:16). Indeed, let us walk the talk. That is but self-evident, for anyone who wishes to come across as being credible.
But the idea that we should make people jealous by means of our lifestyle is misleading, because such a commitment makes us focus on the outward appearance of things – on what others can see of us. So we impress them with our behavior. Another word for that endeavor is… hypocrisy. Recently, a study showed that Christians are often known as being hypocritical. That is, pretending to be better than they actually are. Is that the result of what they hear, every Sunday?
What's the point to preach that Christians should come across as good, on the outside? Whoever wholeheartedly believes, is not concerned with that, because what is genuine will present itself, as such, anyway. And for those who do not wholeheartedly believe … what is there to convey? With the focus on behavior and "marketing", what is being promoted (without realizing it) is hypocrisy. It is precisely on this that the world signs off. And rightly so.
The greater value of my life is not found in my behavior. It may be that my neighbor is much nicer, more appealing and tidier than I am. It could easily be. However, I may know the Word so that I have knowledge of a certain expectation and of the love of God. With that I can make others jealous! Not by drawing attention to my behavior, but by pointing them to the living GOD, Who is the Savior of all mankind! Not everything we do or not do makes us attractive, but the Word that is in our heart and in our mouth. How could people become jealous of that, if they did not get to hear it?
… how should they be believing One of Whom they do not hear?
Yet how should they be hearing apart from one heralding?
-Romans 10:14 (CLV)-
Translation: Peter Feddema