Chuck Swindoll, in his book Growing Deep in the Christian Life, tells a story that occurred in Long Beach, California, several years ago at a fast-food fried chicken joint.
Late one afternoon a man and his date stopped for two chicken dinners to take on a picnic. However, after driving to a secluded spot to eat they opened the sack and discovered over $800 in cash. The lady at the counter inadvertently gave him the sack with the proceeds from that day’s sales.
Quickly he put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car, drove all the way back, and returned the money to the manager who by then was frantic.
Of course, the manager was thrilled. He said to the hero, “Oh, great, let me call the newspaper. I’m gonna have your picture put in the local newspaper. You’re the most honest man I’ve heard of.”
“Oh no, no, don’t do that,” the man quickly responded. Then he leaned closer and whispered, “You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife…she’s uh, somebody else’s wife.”
Our word of the week is genuine.
To be genuine is to possess the qualities, characteristics, and character that we claim. To be real. To be free from pretense, hypocrisy, or deceit. While genuineness involves honesty, it is more. As illustrated by the story, one can be honest in money matters, but deceitful in another area.
The Pharisees, often condemned by Jesus, were scrupulously meticulous in some areas of their religion, but they weren’t genuine. Jesus called them hypocrites. They were pretenders. Play actors. And religious phonies. Their hearts were not right before God.
In Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Series,” he entitled I John “Be Real.” In it, he speaks of genuine faith, genuine love, and genuine obedience. The true believer does more than talk the talk. He walks the walk. He knows who Jesus is. Walks in the light. Embraces divine fellowship. And stands firmly grounded in the truth.
George Whitefield, the great British evangelist, was speaking to a man about his soul. He asked the man, “Sir, what do you believe?”
“I believe what my church believes,” the man replied respectfully.
“And what does your church believe?”
“The same thing I believe. ”
“And what do both of you believe?” the preacher inquired again.
“We both believe the same thing!” was the only reply he could get.
Obviously, the man didn’t know. His faith wasn’t real. He was just a church attender. Not a genuine disciple.
It’s easy to deceive ourselves about our the depth of our convictions and our true motives. The prophet Jeremiah warned, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer 17:9).
The answer, of course, is to allow the Lord to search our hearts as we examine them through His Word. Like a mirror, the Word exposes who we really are. If we look honestly and clearly, we can see ourselves as God sees us.
Paul’s prayed for the Philippian brethren that they would “abound in knowledge and discernment.” But he also prayed that they “would be sincere and without offense.” It means to be genuine. To be able to withstand exposure to testing.
Dr. Phil McGraw on his popular TV show “Dr Phil,” often tells people he’s counseling who are in denial about their problems, “Get real.” God calls His people to “get real” and to “be real” about their lives. Their worship. Their ministry. Their fellowship. And their discipleship
I have a friend who used to say, “Be yourself. But be your best self.” Or in the words of the 19th-century English theologian Julius C. Hare, “Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman