October 17, 2022
Podcast from

Build Trust — Lead With Action

As followers of Jesus, how do we go about changing our hypocritical behavior and image? Also, given all our other responsibilities in life, to what length should we go to do this?

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Audio Transcript

According to research from the Edelman Report, hypocrisy is the number one reason not to trust someone. Not surprisingly, politicians are the least trusted group of people because they don't do what they say.

Jesus taught and demonstrated a selfless kind of love, giving his life for the needs of his followers, yet today Christians are suffering from a reputation of hypocrisy and misconduct — especially among our leaders.

According to data from Pew Research, religiously unaffiliated are growing at a rapid pace. Now 30% of the total U.S. population are religiously unaffiliated, and the majority of religiously unaffiliated people in the United States cite “misconduct by Christian leaders” as the major cause of Christianity's declining influence.

As followers of Jesus, how do we go about changing our hypocritical behavior and image? Also, given all our other responsibilities in life, to what length should we go to do this?”

Many of us wrestle with this question often, and this question reminds me of my least favorite word in business — optics. We must focus on what we're doing more than what we're saying and let our actions speak — instead of just our words.

Many of us have been hurt by Christian leadership, whether directly or indirectly, and 60% of non-Christians say this is the reason for the declining lack of influence of the Church. So, it's a real problem, and we must start with ourselves. That's number one, and if actions are the problem, we must change our actions. That's number two.

However, there's good news. The truth of God's Word defines reality and offers hope. We have clear guidance. Jesus says this in John 13:34-35 on the night before he was betrayed, “a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Characteristics of Selfishness

So we know to love, but yet we still act selfish. How is this? We can believe one thing in a sermon or a good talk or even our morning devotions as we get up and get to know God, and then we go out in the world and act like we have to protect ourselves.

Protecting ourselves is often rooted in selfishness, and these are the top characteristics of selfish people.

  1. They're more concerned with their own needs than the needs of others.
  2. They use manipulation to get what they want.
  3. They value material acquisition, they self promote.
  4. They lack empathy.
  5. They'll usually do anything to get what they want.
  6. And, they tend to be unkind.

Now, every person, follower of Jesus or not, has to look themselves in the mirror and ask, “Do people describe me this way?”

Jesus’ Response to Selfishness

Jesus was concerned about this. He taught to the self-righteous. In particular, to a man in Luke 10, who wanted to justify himself and said he knew the great commandment to love God above all things and love his neighbor as himself.

The young man could say that, but here's what he really said: “Who is my neighbor?” Because he's really trying to figure out who he has to love. Here's what Jesus said. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him pass by the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I'll reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. And then Jesus said, “Which of these do you think was a neighbor of the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” – Luke 10:30-36

The priests and Levi were the religious people, and there was misconduct then. Even if they had a good excuse to get to church on time, it's not a good excuse to leave somebody half-dead.

So Jesus says, “which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law then replied, the one who had mercy.” – Luke 10:36-37

Even the expert, the one who sought to justify himself, said, “the one who had mercy on him”. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” That's a commandment — it's a commandment for us to love people selflessly, people we don't know on the road with no hope.

Martin Luther King famously said about this passage, “the way to figure out what to do is not to ask what's going to happen to me if I help? The thing to do is to ask what happens to him if I don't?” That's the key question for us to ask ourselves over and over.

To What Lengths

In response to your follow up question, “Given everything else we have going on in life, to what lengths should we go to change our hypocritical image and behavior?” Here is the reality: We've got our own families, we've got our own businesses, we've got our own lives, we've got our own commitments, we've made some promises to others. While all that's true, we do have to take care of the people closest to us. A good pastor I know says, do it in vow order — God first.

We get to verses like, “but if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he's denied the faith and is worse than unbelievers.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

So we certainly can't be leaving our own families behind. But then, the context of the rest of God's word says, “let the thief still no longer, but rather let him labor doing honest work with his hands, that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” – Ephesians 4:28

What's defined as denying your own self or your family is pretty minimal. We go far beyond that.

We have abundance and we have much to share, especially in this country, and in this city. Most of us listening to this podcast will have much to share out of abundance, and Jesus proved we should share out of our abundance because He shared out of His.

Past and Present Examples

Our verse last week was, “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). That's what we're supposed to do, and people in the early church did that. They counted it all joy to suffer. In the book of Acts, it’s a refrain throughout.

Then, even just a few hundred years later, Roman historians record that it was the Christians who stayed in the midst of a plague gripping the Roman Empire and Caesaria — people were dying everywhere, and it was the Christians who came back to bury the sick of even Roman citizens, to bury and heal.

We have a similar example in Memphis during the yellow fever, people fled. However, many gathered at St. Mary's downtown and helped. Christians stayed behind and helped, and today we see this throughout our city.


These are just a handful of the many organizations doing this in Memphis today:

  • Economic Opportunities
  • Advance Memphis
  • Neighborhood Christian Center
  • Young Lives
  • Eikon Ministries

The Solution

God's Word tells us what to do. The truth of God's Word is relevant to everything we face, and it says to know His Word and do it. So here's our solution: Look to God's Word and do it.

These verses summarize what we're talking about. Think about how these verses could apply to work.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” How much sorrow have we seen in our workplace, in our city lately, we had many people to weep with and others to rejoice with, to live in harmony with one another. “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all if it's possible, so far as it depends on you. Live peaceably with all beloved. Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for its written vengeance is mine and I will repay, says the Lord to the contrary. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he's thirsty, give him something to drink, but by doing so you'll heat burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:14-21

At work and every day in our lives we face evil. We face people trying to get the better of us. We face people who try to get one up. It may be evil, maybe even planned evil. However, the more they meant it, the more we're supposed to love them back and let God take care of them.

The world and our friends and coworkers will know us by our love, and we can do this every day by communicating the truth, caring for others, and modeling a better way to live and work.

In short, when we know that truth, when we're confident, when we have full buckets of love and grace in our hearts, we're able to dispense that to others. And, if we do it, then the whole world can know the love of Jesus because his followers follow His teachings in life and work.

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Howard Graham
Howard Graham
Executive Director

Audio Transcript

According to research from the Edelman Report, hypocrisy is the number one reason not to trust someone. Not surprisingly, politicians are the least trusted group of people because they don't do what they say.

Jesus taught and demonstrated a selfless kind of love, giving his life for the needs of his followers, yet today Christians are suffering from a reputation of hypocrisy and misconduct — especially among our leaders.

According to data from Pew Research, religiously unaffiliated are growing at a rapid pace. Now 30% of the total U.S. population are religiously unaffiliated, and the majority of religiously unaffiliated people in the United States cite “misconduct by Christian leaders” as the major cause of Christianity's declining influence.

As followers of Jesus, how do we go about changing our hypocritical behavior and image? Also, given all our other responsibilities in life, to what length should we go to do this?”

Many of us wrestle with this question often, and this question reminds me of my least favorite word in business — optics. We must focus on what we're doing more than what we're saying and let our actions speak — instead of just our words.

Many of us have been hurt by Christian leadership, whether directly or indirectly, and 60% of non-Christians say this is the reason for the declining lack of influence of the Church. So, it's a real problem, and we must start with ourselves. That's number one, and if actions are the problem, we must change our actions. That's number two.

However, there's good news. The truth of God's Word defines reality and offers hope. We have clear guidance. Jesus says this in John 13:34-35 on the night before he was betrayed, “a new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”

Characteristics of Selfishness

So we know to love, but yet we still act selfish. How is this? We can believe one thing in a sermon or a good talk or even our morning devotions as we get up and get to know God, and then we go out in the world and act like we have to protect ourselves.

Protecting ourselves is often rooted in selfishness, and these are the top characteristics of selfish people.

  1. They're more concerned with their own needs than the needs of others.
  2. They use manipulation to get what they want.
  3. They value material acquisition, they self promote.
  4. They lack empathy.
  5. They'll usually do anything to get what they want.
  6. And, they tend to be unkind.

Now, every person, follower of Jesus or not, has to look themselves in the mirror and ask, “Do people describe me this way?”

Jesus’ Response to Selfishness

Jesus was concerned about this. He taught to the self-righteous. In particular, to a man in Luke 10, who wanted to justify himself and said he knew the great commandment to love God above all things and love his neighbor as himself.

The young man could say that, but here's what he really said: “Who is my neighbor?” Because he's really trying to figure out who he has to love. Here's what Jesus said. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him pass by the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was, and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denari and gave them to the innkeeper. Look after him, he said, and when I return, I'll reimburse you for any extra expense you may have. And then Jesus said, “Which of these do you think was a neighbor of the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” – Luke 10:30-36

The priests and Levi were the religious people, and there was misconduct then. Even if they had a good excuse to get to church on time, it's not a good excuse to leave somebody half-dead.

So Jesus says, “which of these do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law then replied, the one who had mercy.” – Luke 10:36-37

Even the expert, the one who sought to justify himself, said, “the one who had mercy on him”. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” That's a commandment — it's a commandment for us to love people selflessly, people we don't know on the road with no hope.

Martin Luther King famously said about this passage, “the way to figure out what to do is not to ask what's going to happen to me if I help? The thing to do is to ask what happens to him if I don't?” That's the key question for us to ask ourselves over and over.

To What Lengths

In response to your follow up question, “Given everything else we have going on in life, to what lengths should we go to change our hypocritical image and behavior?” Here is the reality: We've got our own families, we've got our own businesses, we've got our own lives, we've got our own commitments, we've made some promises to others. While all that's true, we do have to take care of the people closest to us. A good pastor I know says, do it in vow order — God first.

We get to verses like, “but if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he's denied the faith and is worse than unbelievers.” – 1 Timothy 5:8

So we certainly can't be leaving our own families behind. But then, the context of the rest of God's word says, “let the thief still no longer, but rather let him labor doing honest work with his hands, that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” – Ephesians 4:28

What's defined as denying your own self or your family is pretty minimal. We go far beyond that.

We have abundance and we have much to share, especially in this country, and in this city. Most of us listening to this podcast will have much to share out of abundance, and Jesus proved we should share out of our abundance because He shared out of His.

Past and Present Examples

Our verse last week was, “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). That's what we're supposed to do, and people in the early church did that. They counted it all joy to suffer. In the book of Acts, it’s a refrain throughout.

Then, even just a few hundred years later, Roman historians record that it was the Christians who stayed in the midst of a plague gripping the Roman Empire and Caesaria — people were dying everywhere, and it was the Christians who came back to bury the sick of even Roman citizens, to bury and heal.

We have a similar example in Memphis during the yellow fever, people fled. However, many gathered at St. Mary's downtown and helped. Christians stayed behind and helped, and today we see this throughout our city.


These are just a handful of the many organizations doing this in Memphis today:

  • Economic Opportunities
  • Advance Memphis
  • Neighborhood Christian Center
  • Young Lives
  • Eikon Ministries

The Solution

God's Word tells us what to do. The truth of God's Word is relevant to everything we face, and it says to know His Word and do it. So here's our solution: Look to God's Word and do it.

These verses summarize what we're talking about. Think about how these verses could apply to work.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” How much sorrow have we seen in our workplace, in our city lately, we had many people to weep with and others to rejoice with, to live in harmony with one another. “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all if it's possible, so far as it depends on you. Live peaceably with all beloved. Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for its written vengeance is mine and I will repay, says the Lord to the contrary. If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he's thirsty, give him something to drink, but by doing so you'll heat burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:14-21

At work and every day in our lives we face evil. We face people trying to get the better of us. We face people who try to get one up. It may be evil, maybe even planned evil. However, the more they meant it, the more we're supposed to love them back and let God take care of them.

The world and our friends and coworkers will know us by our love, and we can do this every day by communicating the truth, caring for others, and modeling a better way to live and work.

In short, when we know that truth, when we're confident, when we have full buckets of love and grace in our hearts, we're able to dispense that to others. And, if we do it, then the whole world can know the love of Jesus because his followers follow His teachings in life and work.

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