Raising Pharisees: Ideas for Fighting Against It (Part 2)
In my last Pastoral Word, I brought up the subject of raising Pharisees and what that can look like. In this follow-up article, I’d like to include an extended quote from Kurt Gebhards that considers how to fight the dangers of hypocrisy:
One of the dangers is that these outwardly compliant children receive much approval from parents and teachers. So they are encouraged to continue the duplicity unless anti-hypocritical measures are employed. We can certainly teach and militate against hypocrisy in the following ways:
Instead of just dealing with external behavior issues, we should seize every opportunity to help children understand that it is their hearts that generate their actions (Mt. 15:19). In His judgment of man, God looks at the heart (1 Sam.16:7). We should never equate occasions of good behavior (professions of love for Jesus, acts of compliance, et cetera) with saving faith in Jesus. We need to go beyond fixing wrong behavior to helping the child understand that his evil heart can only be changed by the Lord in regeneration.
Emphasize the affections of NT religion. Make sure that we are not just aiming at a young person’s understanding, but that we reach for the heart and its affections.
Do not encourage children to exhibit their talents and gifts to impress others. They should be reminded that all that they are and have are gifts of grace from God (1 Cor. 4:7), and they should not regard themselves more highly than they ought (Rom. 12:3).
Teach the truth about integrity—which comes from the word for “integer” or “whole.” For a child with integrity, whichever way you turn them, they look they same. Who they are at church, is who they are in school, is who they are at home. This is what our kids should be.
Do not be afraid to share our spiritual and moral failures with children in instances where they can identify with our shortcomings. This allows us to be authentic with them. It also allows us to demonstrate our response to God when we have done wrong, and our reliance on Him to continue molding our hearts.
Be authentic in your love for Christ. Genuine desire for Christ is not easily faked. Let your zeal be a barometer by which they measure their own affection for Christ.”
I need grace, our parents need grace, our children need grace to fight the constant temptation of hypocrisy. Let’s actively pray for, work in, and rely on the grace of God to raise a new generation of genuine worshippers.