Many people are not the same person in private as they are in public, they do not speak their mind, but instead attempt to fit in, they seek the praise of men. The hardened criminal lays in his cell at night not seeking respect, but desiring to be different, the battle-scared soldier who is fearless wants peace.
“But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)
I have known those who exude an air of confidence, yet in certain company they have an anxious, nervous laughter, those who dumb themselves down and those who feign themselves wiser than they are. We may all be of the family of mankind, but we are not all family.
Those whom you sit in the pews with each Sunday morning, some you have had acquaintances with for many years, are not who they seem to be, they may be brothers and sisters in Christ, but, at least for the majority of them, they are unknown to you. “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
Only in private, and only with the sincere promise that you will tell no one else of that burden.
God knows, you know, but they do not need to know, and so we say we love each other while we hide from each other.
Wives do this to husbands, children to parents, sons to fathers and brother to brothers. Why should it be any different with those who claim to love the Lord as we do? “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. (James 5:16a)
Perhaps around the fringes, but not to the depth of our souls, not to the point to where we would need to reveal our true selves, that remains hidden, that is embarrassing, that can be used against us, that could cause them to leave our side, not to help us with that burden. And so we keep the smile on our faces, until we are once again alone, we offer that anxious laughter over words that have no place of humor, we play the game, and we play it well.
This is not hidden sins we speak of, these are not sinful desires that we experience regularly, this is not the deep recesses of our sinful nature I speak of, at least not in totality, this is simply being the same person you are in private as you are in public. It is called integrity, and the true character of a person is seen only when they are alone.
Many people were wearing a mask long before the supposed pandemic, they have worn it their entire lives. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matt. 15:8) “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) These serve Christ in public, with smiling faces and anxious laughter, they wear the proper clothing, have the appropriate hairstyle, say the proper words at the proper time, they fit in nicely, except when they are alone. They do not sin blatantly under the cover of darkness, they do not rush to find that place of solitude so that they may return to that season of sin unseen, but the Lord of glory rarely enters into their minds when they are alone.
They wear the mask of a Christian, and some are quite well versed in how to put it on, so much so that they have even deceived themselves.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt. 7:22)
Do you know who you are? Can you honestly say that you are the same person in private that you are in public? Do you seek the praise of men or the things of God? Does anyone truly know you besides you?
“But if any man love God, the same is known of him.” (1st Cor. 8:3)