11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. (Galatians 2:11-13 NIV)
“Hypocrisy.” The word jumped off the page at me as I read it. This is the one word that I hear more than any other when I meet folks who “use to go to church,” those who have “tried” Jesus, or were even involved in some kind of ministry, but not any more. They made sacrifices for the cause of Christ, but found out that most Christians just go to church. They were around Christians whose lives on Sunday morning looked and sounded nothing like their lives during the rest of the week.
The Apostle Paul called Peter a hypocrite. Peter confessed that the Gospel was for all people. He knew that God’s love was even for the lowly Gentiles. He said these things, knew these things, believed these things, but he didn’t practice what he preached. Peter was more than willing to eat with the Gentiles…until the Jews showed up. That’s why Paul called him a hypocrite. Paul was right.
Even more devastating than Peter’s hypocrisy was the impact his actions had on the lives of others. Paul tells us that “other Jews” joined Peter and because of their hypocrisy, “even Barnabas was led astray.” I will guarantee you that Peter had no desire to lead anyone astray. He just decided to compromise what he believed because he was in an uncomfortable situation.
This Scripture really causes me to stop and examine my own life. I wouldn’t intentionally lead anyone astray for all of the money in the world. Yet, do I compromise what I believe when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation? Do I act in a way that shows my own hypocrisy when I am faced with the choices I have to make on a daily basis? God allows me, even puts me, in uncomfortable situations to “test” my faith, my commitment to Him. Will I choose to be faithful or simply try to fit in with the crowd?
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will help me to understand that I am an example for those around me every day. Give me the strength, the commitment that I need, so that I will never compromise my love for you and prove to be a hypocrite.