When you were a child, did you ever catch your parents behaving in a way that was contrary to how they taught you to behave? They may have used foul language, but would reprimand you if you did the same. Or they may have lied about being sick so that they could take a day off from work, but would ground you if you skipped school. They may have even gone so far as to use drugs or act promiscuously, but wouldn’t allow you to do the same. And if at any time you tried to act like them, they may have told you to, “do as I say, not as I do”. If these examples resonate with you, I hope you will chose to act differently with those under your authority. I hope that you and I will chose to practice what we preach. Jesus said this to a crowd of people in Matthew, chapter 23, verses 2 and 3:
“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
Whether we think people are aware of our actions or not, we should always behave as if we are being watched by those around us. Your friends may be watching, your children may be watching, your co-workers may be watching, and even your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ may be watching. If we openly proclaim our faith in Christ, we should make every effort to reflect his nature. None of us are perfect, but in as much as it is possible with us, we should always practice what we preach. If we don’t, our credibility and our testimony will be suspect. Think about it. How can we convince anyone to behave in a certain way when we don’t do it ourselves? How can we claim to be Christ-followers when we clearly don’t do what he teaches? I encourage you not to be like the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. I encourage you to practice what you preach.
Whether we think our hypocrisy will stay hidden or not, there always seems to be someone who notices when we aren’t practicing what we say we believe. And even if we are lucky enough to escape notice from those around us, God is always aware of our hypocrisy. Jesus told the crowd that they are to obey what the teachers of the law and the Pharisees taught, primarily because of their position, but also because much of what they said lined up with the character of God. Nevertheless, they didn’t live out their faith. They didn’t practice what they taught, and Jesus took notice. How is your walk? Do you practice what you preach? Do you encourage people to live one way but secretly, or even openly, you live another? Jesus tells us that we aren’t to behave that way. We are to hear the word of God and obey. We are to read the Bible and follow what it says. And when we fail to live up to what we know is right, we need to repent and acknowledge that our actions did not reflect what we say we believe. I encourage you to reflect what you say you believe, whether in word or deed. I encourage you to practice what you preach.