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The Hidden Things

Hidden

By Dennis Pollock

When we were young we saw people pretty much in the mode of WYSIWYG – “what you see is what you get.” In didn’t occur to us that people might have hidden lives where their behavior was drastically different from their public persona. In our minds nice guys were always nice, day or night, in private or in public, in church or at work, on their good days or on their not-so-great ones. But as we aged and observed life and people, we came to realize that when it comes to men and women what you see is almost never what you get. People have their work face, their church face, their parental face, their hang-out-with-their-buddies face, and many other faces that they put on and take off at will. Like the chameleon, who changes his colors to fit his surroundings, humans tend to do the same.

Jesus took note of this phenomenon, as it relates to our public vs. our hidden behavior. He indicated that both the godly and the ungodly have a hidden life, and stated that in both cases, what we hide will sooner or later be exposed and revealed. On the negative side He states:

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known (Luke 12:1-2).

“Woe to you, Hypocrites…”

Perhaps no better word sums up a negative hidden compartment in one’s life than hypocrisy. The hypocrite says one thing before men and does something else in secret. He pretends to be a shining model of righteousness, nobility, and decorum, and takes great pride in it, but when no one is around to impress, he behaves abominably. Many of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were hypocrites, and He blasted them for it, saying:

  1. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers” (Matthew 23:14).
  2. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25).
  3. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs…” (Matthew 23:27).


Jesus spares no words in condemning these hyper-religious, super-spiritual hypocrites who looked so good in their public lives but were so corrupt in their private ones. He portrays them as beautifully painted tombs, which are very impressive and beautiful on the outside, but are filled on the inside with the stench of rotting, decaying flesh. As we saw earlier, Jesus warns that secret hypocrisy will ultimately be exposed.

Scandal

Sometimes it happens in this life. In recent years we have had an abundance of scandals involving powerful men, particularly celebrities, news anchors, and television and movie stars whose lives were rocked with public exposure of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment of young women. We looked up to these men. They seemed so smart, so wise, so thoroughly decent, and then we discovered that when they weren’t in front of a camera, they were engaged in conduct that was horrific and monstrous. It turns out they weren’t at all who we thought they were. They had a hidden side, a secret life, an ugly aspect of their life that they had managed to keep hidden for many years and often decades.

Sadly, in the church it is not always so very different. As I grew up my family brought me to a church which was pastored by a man who seemed to be the model of propriety and religious correctness. He was so tough on sin that he made you feel that even the most harmless of amusements was an affront to God Himself. Bowling was sinful, playing cards was wicked, watching television was a great evil, attending sports events was carnal, and going to movies – how horrible!

The pastor was looked upon as one of God’s favorites and if not infallible, well, pretty close to it. He was held in such reverence that his word in that church was law, and he ran the church, the finances, the activities, and everything else with an iron hand. And then one day, after all his tough sermons, his exhortations to the members to live entirely upright lives, a lady accused him of molesting her little girl. And then another family made a similar accusation. Then woman after woman charged him with pressuring them into sex. This scandal rocked the church and became a major news story in the St. Louis area. He was ousted from his church and faced a court trial. He was found guilty but at his advanced age, and suffering from dementia and physical disabilities, he was given probation rather than a prison sentence, with the stipulation that he never again involve himself in any sort of religious activities or leadership.

It turns out that this pastor had a vile and rotten hidden life. Jesus stated that what hypocrites do in secret will be revealed and this man’s horrific behavior certainly was. Reporters and TV cameras constantly surrounded him on his way to and from court during the trial and splashed his elderly, wrinkled face on the evening news. The man who had been looked upon as next to God was revealed for the wicked wretch that he was.

Those Who Go Undiscovered

But not all wicked men and women are exposed in this life. Probably for every scandal that erupts in a public fashion, there are more still which do not reach the light of day. Without a doubt there are men and women who commit horrendous acts of wickedness and immorality, and yet live out their lives without being publicly discovered or punished. And since this is true, how can Jesus tell us that there is nothing covered that will not be revealed?

The answer lies in the simple truth that there is another life after this one. “It is appointed unto men to die once, and after that, the judgment.” And it is here, at the judgment bar of the Almighty, where the hidden things of the wicked are revealed, and the secret things come to light. All sexual misconduct, all lies and deceit, all the brutal, lustful acts committed upon the innocent who became too ashamed to report it, all that is done behind closed doors or alone in front of a computer shall be exposed and judged. It will then become evident that no one ever got away with anything, ever. Nothing has ever been covered, not even by the most careful planning and brilliant deception, which will not eventually be revealed.

Hidden Life of the Godly

But there is a more positive side to this concept. Although many men and women are far worse privately than they appear publicly, some are far better. In fact, we are commanded to be this way. Jesus tells us that when we give to the poor, or when we fast and pray, we should by all means keep it hidden, and not let our left hand know what our right hand is doing. We who follow Jesus Christ must have a hidden, secret life –not a hidden life of immorality and shame, but a hidden life of righteousness and a deep walk with God.

When we go to church and look around, we see many different people of different backgrounds, different colors, different styles of clothing, and so forth. But there is much we cannot see. Unless we know these folks very well, we cannot possibly know how generous they are in giving to God and to His causes. We have no idea whether they regularly give money to the poor, whether they pray a little or a lot, or hardly ever. We cannot know if they ever fast, or if they read their Bibles regularly. Of course, we could all wear signs on our backs, describing the amount of our giving, the hours or minutes we spend in prayer, and how often, if ever, we fast.

But that would be ridiculous. Not only would it spoil the look of our clothes, it would lead us into boasting and in many cases, exaggeration. No, Jesus tells us that it must be the very opposite. We must keep our giving, our prayer life, and our devotion to God a closely guarded secret. Let God alone be the witness to our walk with Him. The others can only guess.

Does Anyone Care?

It can get somewhat discouraging, however, when we know that we have a secret, inner life with God and Christ, and yet we don’t seem to be seeing any great outward benefits from it, especially when others, whom we are almost certain don’t pray as much as we, seem to be more prosperous and problem-free. Or perhaps we feel that we go on day after day and year after year laboring for Christ and His church, and yet we are unnoticed by nearly everybody, while others who are a bit more outgoing and popular get all the attention and commendation.

In such cases Jesus tells us not to worry and assures us, “There is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light” (Mark 4:22). But exactly how does our secret life come to the light of day? In the cases of some of the greatest and most effective ministers, someone usually writes a biography about their lives and someone else may produce a video documentary about them. Eventually their secret life and walk with God are publicly known. But such men and women are the exception. For every Christian man or woman who has a biography written about his or her life, there are thousands who are never written about. When they die, about the only ones who had any idea of their walk with God and their ministry to people would be their spouse and their children. And when the years roll by and the spouse and children come to the end of their lives, all the hidden things of the secret life of that individual are essentially forgotten forever. Their compassion, their quiet readiness to share with the poor and give to the work of Christ, their love for the Scriptures, their thousands of hours of pouring out their hearts to their Heavenly Father – all will be forgotten, and this godly man or woman will essentially disappear from earth’s history, unsung and unheralded. The world will go on as though they had never existed.

Our Day in Court

Well, not quite. The secret things of the godly will ultimately be revealed in a unique event which Paul calls “the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). It is here where all the hidden things will be spilled out for all to see. Here we will discover that not a single prayer breathed under our breath was ignored, not a dollar given to further the work of Jesus was unappreciated, not even a glass of cool water given to a child in Christ’s name will be without reward. We will discover that our God is the most meticulous and thorough Record Keeper in the universe, and has reserved amazing and unthinkable blessings and rewards for us, as compensation for all those things we did in the name of Jesus.

Despite all the devil’s lies, God was paying attention to us after all! He truly lives up to the name that Hagar gave Him so very long ago – the “LORD who sees.” In that Day we will be glad that we kept our secret life with Christ a secret. We will rejoice that we refused to boast of our walk with God, or giving to His work, or our compassionate care toward the hurting. God was our audience all along.

Jesus was the perfect fulfillment of this principle. As He hung on the cross, paying the price for our sins, the jeering crowd had no clue about the Man they were crucifying. They could not look into His heart and see the incredible, intense love He had for all the world. They were entirely ignorant that on the cross before them was One who lived His life entirely for the glory of God and the good of men and women. In their eyes He was just a religious pretender, a charlatan. But on Sunday morning, God gave His verdict of the Man they had crucified and Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. The kind of Person He was has now been revealed in four amazing accounts we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. That which was covered, hidden, and secret has now been revealed for all who have the eyes to see.

As with the Master, so shall it be with His followers. Paul writes: “The good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden” (1 Timothy 5:25).

 

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