Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)Planning ahead, especially in finances, has never been a strongpoint for me (sometimes a verse just gets personal, you know?), and only recently has any major attempt to change that been made. And while this is often seen as a message for financial responsibility (and sometimes a call for an end of procrastination), there is another, more subtle application we can get from this passage.
To put this softly, i've been around too many churchgoers outside of church-related functions to be anything but a cynic, and only the fewest (a remnant, if you will) haven't proven the resulting assumptions correct.
To be slightly more blunt, a lot of people going to Hell will arrive there on a pew. And it's such a tragic thing, it should bring tears to our eyes. In fact, God showed Ezekiel that His judgement would fall on the heads of those who didn't mourn; of the men, women, children, regardless of age, He tells the executioners to "Slaughter them all!" and to "Defile the house! Fill the courtyards with corpses! Get going!" What's more, there's a startling command given; "Begin at my sanctuary."
The first to receive judgement, it is saying, are those who believe in God, who claim to follow His Law, and yet pass by the crippled man on the side of the road. Those who "love God," but not their fellow man.
And don't get me wrong, "Love always trusts, always hopes, always--" I know. And there is little defense to be made for cynicism, excepting perhaps the fact that we're commanded strictly to avoid those who "retain the outer form of religion but deny its power."
See, there are those we're to avoid, not just blindly embrace. Love is blind, but it's certainly not stupid. Keeps no record of wrong, but isn't naive. It hopes, but hope is usually encompassed by doubt--or else it would simply be expectation.
And where this ties up; just because we have witnessed sin and immorality by churchgoers outside of church, if we watch them raise their hands on Sunday and then hear them start cussing or talking about sleeping around with people by Monday, that doesn't mean it has to change us. This is simply those who "retain the outer form of religion but deny its power." They deserve your pity, your groaning, your weeping, your compassion and, if they will hear you, Biblical correction. After all, judgement will come first to those in the sanctuary.
But go to the ant! It has no leader, no overseer, no ruler; it operates not based on the actions of those around it, but by its own purpose, its own mind, its own work. If you have been wounded because some people look Christian on Sunday but do it all for show, that's between them and God; it's up to each of us to do what is necessary to maintain confidence before Him, which is behaving as His children should.
Go to the ant. Do not be led astray. Do not look to the left or to the right. Do not look at your "Paul" (your spiritual leader) unless he is of more semblance to Christ than yourself. And should your "Paul" ever stop following Christ, stop imitating Paul, stop following Paul. Look to Christ.
Imitate Christ so that you may be "Paul" to someone else.