It seems the bragging boards of social media are posted with every impulse, every emotion, every thought, urge, and inflated or deflated whim that passes through our being. I can’t say, though, with a clear conscience that this is a good thing.
We are supposed to be impressed with his good intentions… we’re expected to congratulate her for such imagined triumphs, for performances scripted, yet stagnant, still waiting to be performed?
Look at what I’m going to do…
See what I’d like to become…
Affirm me as I sit here and write about the difference I hope to make…
This is a generation of dreamers.
And they aren’t the only ones…
Politicians, executives, spokespersons, writers, and (sadly) even some preachers, behind pulpits, upon platforms of all kinds, toss their tiny bits and streams of colorful daydreams into the crowd… expecting cheers, accepting praise, inhaling applause, unearned and undeserved, for accomplishments that have yet begun, and for efforts left hanging, deficient of any real substance.
But since when is dreaming enough?
And somehow, this spewing of a multitude of meaningless words has become okay. This fluffy rhetoric made of hollow promises—another kind of Vanity Fair.
I realize, they didn’t tell the truth, but deep down they’re really good kids…
He’s such an inspiring speaker… I just can’t believe he would do something like that…
She’s so sweet… with an apology like that, how could you not believe her… I mean, didn’t you see her tears…?
Besides, how could anyone say something so heartfelt, so passionate, so convincing, and not mean it…?
And so the illusion continues, with grand intentions left undone, leading us nowhere, or taking us down the slippery slope of self-deception. Because when the stage lights go off, when the audience makes its exit… the one forgets his pipe dream promises, drifting lazily upward, disappearing into the atmosphere… and her mouth once again opens, whispering tales twisted untrue.
Too often I have been convicted of my own insincerity and past promises still un-kept. I’ve grieved over flippant comments flung from my mouth, producing hurt or doubt in another by words I later regretted. But I am learning the lesson.
Don’t talk big and do little. Talk little and do big.
Don’t tell me what you’d like to be—show me your intentions by doing what’s necessary for becoming what you ought to be.
There was a time in churches across the globe, toward the end of the worship service, when pastors called for an invitation… not a common practice anymore, though… too many promises perhaps, made to God and fellow believers, only to remain unfulfilled, when the feeling’s gone, as do New Year’s resolutions weeks and months later… too much pressure to change… and too few souls willing to invite the discomfort of allowing the Holy Spirit’s light to shine, exposing the inner recesses of our nature, and to do whatever necessary for removing the offensive part, making room for His nature to conquer mine.
But… we’re way past that now. Or are we?
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. – Matthew 6
We urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus… For this is the will of God, your sanctification… that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor… For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit… But we urge you… that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. – I Thessalonians 4
Ah, but we live in an age of grace, we’re told. And Christianity is no longer a life lived on purpose, but in living careless, aimless beyond the present passion.
As the fast forward button remains stuck in our lives, and few remember what anyone says, in the whirlwind of what those around us are doing and saying… and nobody’s perfect… and all the commotion adds interest to our otherwise dull existence… and we like to have our ears tickled and our senses teased. And we live in a culture of tolerance, because when I refuse to judge you, then you won’t judge me, and then we’ll both get along, and everything’ll be cool. Just cool.
But none of this justifies the falsity of good intentions left hanging, forgotten, neglected, ignored… of vain boasting, the tendency to say one thing but turn around and do another… which is really just another form of lying. But we don’t want to hear that.
The Savior warned His followers not to do as the Pharisees do, because they say and do not. They judge harshly in someone else the very things they are guilty of. They also put heavy, demanding burdens and restrictions on others, while they themselves slip through the loop holes (Matthew 23).
Pharisees love the fanfare.
Hypocrites protect the pretense, the image they’ve created, to gain the approval of others, forgetting there is One who sees what’s behind the mask and what truly motivates the orator.
But I believe we can do better—with His help, by His Word, on our knees, with hearts that are humble. And we can direct our family members, those within our sphere of influence, to do better.
More good has been accomplished in this world and in Christian circles by working hard, minding our own business, and being Christ-like… far more than lengthy expositions, announcements, vauntings about the changes we plan to make. When we start living rightly, our good intentions will become our current behavior… bringing about desired results, instead of offering a world in need the fruitless boastings of who we imagine ourselves to be.