A good while back I was playing concentration with a grandson who was 3 years old at the time. In case you’re not familiar with the game, it is a card game in which all of the cards are laid face down on a surface and two cards are flipped face up each turn. If you don’t get a match you simply flip the cards back over and if you get a match you keep the cards. The reason the game is named concentration is because you have to remember which cards have been flipped over and where each one is located in order to make the most matches and win the game. So, as we were playing the game, I noticed my grandson keeping cards that weren’t matches. At first I rationalized that he was only 3 so I’ll just let it go. And then I saw him do it again and then a third time. When he did it the third time, I gave him a winsome gaze and I just kept looking directly in his eyes. And then I asked, “did those cards match?” He lowered his eyes, put his hand over his stack of cards and his lip began to quiver. I asked him for his cards in a whisper tone but he got up and didn’t want to play any longer. Later, as I hugged him, I explained to him that if he really wants to win he has to learn to win without cheating.

I’d like to believe that forcing things to match or acting like something matches ends in preschool but it doesn’t. Do you agree? Some of us can’t match colors. Others can’t match styles. Still others, struggle with matching faces and names. Okay, it’s one thing to be inept but something completely different when we deliberately try to distort or deceive. My grandson wasn’t inept even at 3 to play the card game of concentration. In fact, he deliberately tried to deceive me so he could claim he won. So when was the last time you deliberately deceived someone to achieve a result you desired? Does the public personae of your family match the private relational health of your family? Does your faith on Sunday match your faith on Monday? Does your conversation about someone behind their back match what you say to their face? Does your lifestyle match your claim of being a Christian? Do your political and philosophical views match a biblical worldview? Before you answer these questions, remember you either match or you don’t.
What is a match? The dictionary defines the word “match” as “something corresponding in type, form or function or deemed to be harmonious with another.” Therefore, when we’re playing concentration, we know a picture of an apple doesn’t match a picture of a frog. On a more serious note, we should also know cheating, lying, stealing, gossiping, slandering and acts of immoral behavior don’t match the lifestyle of a follower of Jesus. Why? These attributes don’t match the attributes of Jesus. And, for that matter, they are described as sin in the Bible. In fact, sin grieves (Ephesians 4:30) the Spirit of God.
The late Dr. Adrian Rogers told a story of a lady in a sermon he preached years ago. This lady came up to him and asked if he had a Bible with a lavender colored cover. She went on to explain that her Easter dress was lavender and she wanted to match her Bible to her dress. Well, okay, that is all well and good I guess. But isn’t it just like us to try to match our Bible to our lives instead of matching our lives to our Bible? The Word of God, the Bible, is the standard. In other words, it is the level and the plumb line that measures our life (2 Timothy 3:16). Now then, aren’t we similar to a 3 year old child? You know what I mean. We say it’s a match when it isn’t a match and try to hide it. We say we are Christians but we don’t act or talk like Christians. We say the Bible is the Word of God but then we disobey what it says. We chastise a friend for doing something in public that we do in private. Isn’t this the definition of hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5)?
Do you want to match Jesus and His word? Peter explains how to become “partakers of the divine nature.”  2 PE 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
When our character matches the character of Jesus and when our lifestyle matches the Bible, it is a powerful testimony of the grace of God. This also highlights the power of God in the life of the Christian. However, when we try to make the character of Jesus match our character and when we try to make the Bible match our lifestyle, the deception gravely injures our personal testimony and makes Jesus appear to be weak to those outside the faith. And, as well, it becomes a stumbling block for those who are young in the faith. It’s one thing for a 3 year old to claim a picture of an apple matches a picture of a frog in a card game. That’s bad enough. But the magnitude of impact is exponential when an adult claims they’re a Christian and then acts like a pagan without repentance. A match is a match. But if it’s not a match, it’s not a match. Similar to what I explained to my grandson, if you really want to win (match the character of Jesus), you have to learn to win without deception.

A Work in Progress,

Pastor Gene