29 Sep Thread #126: How it Backfires When We Do Good Works to be Seen By Others
Have you ever felt pressured by someone else to do something that wasn’t exactly wrong, just not natural to you? This is even worse when you are on their turf and have to be especially courteous and so it’s difficult to extricate yourself from the situation or even to figure out your response should be. Sometimes we can be pressured to go against our principles even though we aren’t being pressured to actually do evil, just to be unreal. Today’s lesson is about an occupational hazard that is especially dangerous to those who serve in roles that are widely visible–doing things to be seen.
Every career has it’s set of inherent dangers. (I was amazed to learn, for example, that fry cooks have a very short life expectancy.) Well, as Christians we have standards that are higher than that of the surrounding culture. On top of that, some branches of Christianity are especially strict. These cultures have lots of rules and an atmosphere that can tend toward being judgmental about the lifestyle of others. I was raised in the holiness tradition and we had rules about how long the Woman’s hair had to be, about alcohol and tobacco and cussing and gambling and watching movies etc. etc.
Whether your church culture was this strict or not, there has always been a tendency to engage in forms of posturing in front of the people, trying to be seen as especially pious and holy. It’s a difficult situation because the New Testament does require leaders to have a life that is an example of the things we preach and believe, but living your life with your mind constantly occupied by worry regarding what others will think about you if you do this or that—is a form of bondage that so many people struggle with. It cripples families in ministry and causes the children of ministers who feel pressured to live a showcase family life to hate the church.
In this Thread we see the awkward situation the Apostle Paul get into when he agrees to do a favor for a friend and do a good work to be seen by others. It becomes a total mess. Listen to this episode of Thread to learn more.