Christ of Contradictions
JESUS has been teaching on a mountainside for maybe an hour. And He already seems to be contradicting Himself. He started off telling those who follow Him not to hide the changes that will happen to them if they give their lives to Him. He says to let the changes the Holy Spirit will make in them when they believe He rescued them from death and Hell shine out! But now, maybe an hour later, He is giving example after example of why they shouldn’t seek attention. Why the change? Why contradict Himself?
But He isn’t. He is talking about two different things: action and motivation.
Think of a young girl just reaching sexual maturity and growing breasts. A healthy girl doesn’t try to strap down her breasts so others can’t see she is maturing. It is part of the changes that are going on within her that will eventually enable her to give life and sustain a baby human. Yet she doesn’t walk around topless to get attention for herself, either. Then she would be emotionally or mentally immature. There is a difference between becoming naturally mature in who we are becoming and being emotionally and mentally mature to live out those changes.
The same is true of Spiritual life. JESUS tells us that when we follow Him, we surrender all we have and are to Him because we realize He gives all He has and is to us by His death on the Cross to rescue us. And His rising from the dead shows we have been forgiven for what caused Him to take our place. His Holy Spirit comes into us and matures in us. We change in ways that help us to share the eternal Life He gives us to others. We are meant to mature in Him and attract others to Him to share what we experience and learn of Him with them so they can meet Him for themselves. We are not to hide these changes out of fear for suffering for belonging to Him.
But if we are trying to get attention intentionally, our motivation is wrong. It is a danger sign that we don’t really understand what JESUS did or that we are Spiritually, mentally or emotionally immature. We may not really be following JESUS at all but just fooling ourselves. We are a contradiction to what JESUS says we are to be.
When we fall in love we don’t show it by telling others how wonderful we are. If we are really, truly in love with someone else we can’t keep quiet about how wonderful they are and live to please them and those they love.
JESUS is not contradicting Himself. He is warning anyone calling themselves Christians to beware of contradicting themselves. If they really know how much He loves them they will be openly loving Him and others in His Name. But in ways that don’t show they doubt His love is enough and still seek attention for themselves. Love is not a self-portrait. Love looks like the loved One.
“When therefore thou doest alms, sound not 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 received their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.”
Matthew 6:2-4 ASV