The late brother Dennis Gillett wrote, “The essential and incisive test of what we are is discovered internally. Our spirit is the reality, good or bad. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. The external things we do occasionally are not the true measurement of our spirit, any more than the careful premeditated things we say. God does not measure men by the occasional things but by the spirit” (Genius of Discipleship, page 130).

The question each one of us must ask ourselves is, “do we have the light within us?” Is the mind of Christ transforming our lives; are we personally convicted that what we believe is right; are we sincere and genuine people; is what we profess to be consistent with our actions; are our actions controlled by a good “conscience toward God” (1 Peter 2:19, 21)? If we answered “no” to any or all of these questions and yet we still profess to be ambassadors of Christ, are we not hypocrites; saying one thing and doing or thinking another? In such a case we are no better than the Pharisees, who were scathingly rebuked by Christ in Matthew 23:25–28: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity”.

 It is absolutely imperative that the Word of God and the Character of the Father and His Son have made an impact upon our own hearts before we attempt to teach others, otherwise we are hypocrites. We cannot rely merely on outward appearance as a means of witnessing for Christ, nor can we rely purely on what we say; and we cannot simply consider abstinence from participation in certain activities as “witnessing for Christ”. Rather, a true “servant (or witness) of Christ” is one who does the will of God from the heart(Eph 6:6). The light that they shine without has its source within—in a mind energised by the will of God. Theirs is a true light, not an illusion. The light which emanates from them is consistent, not spasmodic—something that is switched on and off depending upon the circumstances or environment. Being an ambassador for Christ is a full-time commitment, not a part-time occupation. It is a way of life, not the isolated performance of tasks or activities executed under the banner of preaching.

As ambassadors of Christ, our behaviour should be such as can only reflect credit upon the one whom we represent, even Christ. It basically comes down to the question, do we practise what we preach? If we do not, then we are like those in Titus 1:16, who “profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him”.

 How then does God view our lives? In Proverbs 21:2 we read, “every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but Yahweh pondereth the hearts”. The beginning of this verse expresses the thought tha the heart of man is so deceitful, it not only deceives others, but even itself! What then is at the root of this problem? Brother Islip Collyer wrote: “A man may have a very thorough grasp of the truth so far as its elementary principles are concerned, he may retain a lively recollection of apostolic exhortations, he may even be able to speak ‘a word in season’ for the building up of others, and yet, through lack of the ability or the inclination to examine himself, he may quite fail to make any practical application of his knowledge in the moulding of his own life” (Conviction and Conduct, pages 119–120).

Thus the deceitfulness of the heart requires that we take great care in self-examination. For example, Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:7 asked the Corinthians, “Do ye look on things after the outward appearance?” This is one aspect with which we must exercise great caution. We can fall into the trap of placing too much emphasis upon how we appear externally. We can think that all is well, when all looks well. When we think this way, we are no better than those condemned by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:12 for glorying “in appearance, and not in heart”. More importantly though, if we have this attitude, we have totally misunderstood how God views us.

In Proverbs 21:2, we read that “Yahweh pondereth the hearts”. God is interested in what is in our hearts, and not in what we might appear or profess to be. God requires and desires morality, not an outward show with which there is no humility. As Samuel instructed Saul, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). God Himself also declared in Hosea 6:6, “For I desired mercy and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”. Hence, we can see that God is not interested at all in externals or mere outward show, unless they are motivated by an inner spirit of sincerity and humility. Brother Gillett wrote: “Having the spirit of Christ is an internal condition… It cannot be achieved by a mere adjustment of external things… A man may do externally the things which Christ did. He may go about washing people’s feet, using only Bible words, speaking in the open and having no permanent home —and yet he is not a true disciple for all that. Because, in the end, the real test is a test of the spirit. The heart is the place where the final judgment is made” (Genius of Discipleship, page 131).

And, in case we might think that we have not been addressing what Solomon was getting at, let us read the next verse of Proverbs 21:3: “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to Yahweh than sacrifice”. God is not interested in the ritual performance of activities, but rather, in the development of a character which seeks to manifest His own character, thereby giving glory to Him. God delights more in the pure motive with which an action is carried out, than in the performance of the act alone. He is concerned with our characters and our actions, not our actions alone. Paul dramatically demonstrates this point in that wonderful chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13, where he reasons, “though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing”.

 Another powerful lesson is portrayed for us by Paul in Romans 2. Here we have graphically outlined for us the hypocrisy of the Jews: “Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God… And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes… Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that preachest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?” (verses 17–22) This is hypocrisy; this is not practising what is preached; this is in effect exhorting others to remove the motes from their eyes, whilst ignoring the beam that is in our own eyes. What then is God’s view on the matter? It is given for us in verses 28–29 where we read, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly… but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly… whose praise is not of men, but of God”.

 The Apostle John summarised it this way: “He that saith he abideth in him (that is Christ) ought himself also so to walk even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). And concerning Christ, Brother Gillett wrote, “Jesus emerges from the Gospels as a man of clarity. He is open and honest… He is never a man to trim his words out of anxiety for his image. He is never looking sideways to estimate the impression he is making” (Genius of Discipleship, page 132).

So here then is the call—let us get rid of the things which encourage hypocrisy, and strive to transform our hearts to be like Christ, the “true light”. Let us try our best to be true light-bearers, reflecting from within a manifestation of Christ, the light of the world. If this is our genuine endeavour, then we will be “the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).