5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Observation and refection questions
Context: The congregation to which John wrote (approximately AD 94) apparently went through some traumatic split when a group following some Gnostic deception departed from them. Among other things, these heretics propagated the belief that sins you do in your body has no effect on your spirit, and therefore it is not possible for a believer to sin at all.
Considering the context how do you understand verses 6 and 8?
From this text, how do we “walk in the light”? (verse 7)
Knowing we are fallible, how do we still “walk in the light” from this text?
Application and Prayer
Secrecy of personal flaws to pretense and shame; it diminishes our confidence and damages our reputation as leaders. However, having the boldness to be absolutely transparent with close friends about our personal struggles removes our shame, increases our confidence as leaders and allows for God’s grace to overcome personal weaknesses.
Last week we encouraged transparency with a close friend regarding our personal weaknesses and habitual flaws we struggles with.
Consider your habitual thoughts: your daydreams (hopes), regrets, temptations (desires), anxieties (fears) and anger? List the following thoughts and talk about it to your close Christian friends.
What do you daydreaming about?
What regrets do you ponder on?
Which temptations are dangerous to you, and when?
What are you anxious about?
What are you angry about?
Pray with your friend and ask God to cleanse your heart and conscience.
Ask your friend to help you choose one scripture to memorize and mediate on in the week.
Make a date for when you will talk so openly again.
A Barna Group study revealed that non-Christians American primarily associate Christians with the word “hypocrite”. Truly, there is a dire need for vulnerability and authenticity in the church – especially among leaders. After all – nothing ruins trust in a leader as the discovery that he or she is a fake.
Before starting with today’s devotional leadership study, look at this inspirational talk by Dr Dale Cilliers on the need for leaders to be candid (real, authentic, truthful). [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGb7E6wsk2o]
1 In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. 2 Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Observation and refection questions
Context: Jesus and his disciples just had dinner in the house of a Pharisee and the crowds gathered in and around the house to hear him speak.
When would someone usually be labeled as a hypocrite? From your knowledge of the Bible, why did Jesus call the Pharisees “hypocrites”?
Note whom Jesus addresed in this conversation (verse 1). Could you think of someone among Jesus’ disciples whom might have rightfully been called a hypocrite? Why would you say this?
Jesus referred to hypocrisy as “leaven”; what is leaven, and how is hypocrisy similar to it? How do you understand this metaphor then?
How are verses 2 and 3 related to the “Beware…”-statement of Jesus?
Personal reflection and Application
The Pharisees were devoted to the literal observance of Moses’ Law and traditions of the elders. Yet Jesus repeatedly referred to them as “hypocrites” or actors – pretending to be morally upright and religiously observant but only as long as people see them.
Which aspect of your life if “brought to light” or “proclaimed from the housetops” (especially in your local church) would cause your much shame?
What are the effects of leading publically with pretense while struggling with a private weakness or sin? What have you experienced? Think and reflect.
Write your private flaws on a piece of paper. Then read it to the Lord, as though he is sitting in front of you. Confess the sin and ask for mercy for forgiveness and grace for overcoming the temptation (1 John 1:7-9; Hebrews 4:16).
Next, overcome the shame of hypocrisy by telling a mature Christian friend whom you trust. Commit to be transparent and accountable with him/her weekly about this. Take their counsel in the matter!
Name the great Biblical leaders whose flaws were well recorded. What do you learn form that?
How can you still lead in authenticity and truth while being weak in a specific area?
Pray for the grace to live a humble and honest life as a leader, safeguarded in true friendships where you can be absolutely honest about your struggles and flaws. Ask God for grace to lead and live with authenticity while growing in holiness.
Reference: Kinneman, unChristian, Barna Group, 2007