You have heard the statement, “practice what you preach!”
This saying is derived from a biblical source when Jesus in Matt 23:3 said, “so practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” He was speaking of the Pharisees, the prominent leaders of the day. Most of the time, when we hear this kind of phrasing it is used to point out that someone is telling us what to do, but they aren’t doing it themselves, So, we call them a hypocrite, then we walk away deeming the thing they promote as worthless but notice that Jesus says to do it. He says, go ahead, follow and practice what they tell you but don’t follow them. Their example is no good. Their talk and their walk don’t match. What if most of us, daily, are just trying to work how to practice what we preach?
I know it is that way for me and most likely for you. I don’t get everything right the first time or even the tenth. I am working it out in real-time. I fail. I mess up. I do it wrong. I hurt people. I jump the gun. I don’t think it through. I am currently reading a book about spiritual disciplines by Dallas Willard. Guess what? Anything worth doing must be put into practice. You have to work at it.
James says in verse 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” When we listen to the words of Christ, we know them to be good words. I love to share good words, don’t you? Quoting people smarter and more grace-filled than me is a joy of mine. I love the way people put words together to describe real life and the smallest nuances. I want to be like them. I want to speak like that. I want to share good words that are well thought out and full of grace and yet, at times, my words come out truthful but cutting. Still, I practice. I keep on working at how I form the words. I keep on sharing, writing, and speaking.
Before we call people hypocrites, maybe we can stop our disgust for their behavior long enough to watch and see what they are trying to practice as they preach.
Maybe we can learn to have a little grace for each other while we are trying to work out how to make our body and mouth align. The Pharisees weren’t trying to be aligned. They were about being and staying in power. They claimed to know God then killed the One who was God in the flesh, Jesus Himself. We all can slide into a “say it but don’t live it” life. Somewhere along the line we stop thinking its important to be whole not just look whole or holy.
Keep going even after you’ve failed!
Keep working at it after you’ve fallen!
Keep being kind anyway after you’ve gotten angry and hurt the people around you!
We are all just tying to work it out!
The difference between us will be shown out over time. Some will grown, and some will still be standing at the same step they were years ago. We’ll find them yelling at the step that was too high. Still complaining that their legs aren’t long enough and mad at the one who made it. There will always be some reason out there that we can use to explain away why we aren’t able. Yet, it’s all in our minds and out of control emotions. Don’t be deceived, you have what it takes! The Lord made you with all the ingredients. Now, go do it! Practice what you’ve preached! It’s worth it.
All is grace,