Are you seasoned with salt? Does your vine have leaves of grace? Do you practice what you preach or do you preach what you don’t practice? HMMMM…….
Let’s dig. Dissecting scripture without the Holy Spirit is like doing surgery on one of your family members without a doctor. Gets pretty risky. Thinking we have all the answers and placing ourselves in a position of leadership over others because we believe that is what we are “called” to and preaching/teaching with a façade as our background leads me to ask the question: “do I practice what I preach or do I preach what I practice”? It sounds nearly the same but it is not. There is a difference. Many will say there is not, yet I believe there is. In all reality the question should be: How can I preach what I don’t practice?
Here is the beginning issue for me: Is my witness for Christ a counterargument for my own actions? Am I practicing what I preach or claiming to live my life according to the Word of God without the heart and deeds that follow? Or, does what I preach show duplicity in my life because it is not what I practice? (saying one thing and doing another) It is almost impossible to get others to do what we aren’t willing to do. Truly, this is not a leader.
Let’s look at Matthew 23.
Mat 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
Mat 23:2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.
Mat 23:3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
Mat 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
Mat 23:5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.
Mat 23:6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,
Mat 23:7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’
Mat 23:8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
Mat 23:9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
Mat 23:10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
Mat 23:11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mat 23:12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
Mat 23:13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
Jesus warns the crowds AND his followers about those who do not practice what they preach. But look at how he says it. In Verse 3 Jesus tells us “do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do”. In Verse 5 he goes on to say “but all their works they do to be seen by men”. In Verse 7 he says they seek to be called “Rabbi” (teacher) by men. He then reminds us there is only one teacher. THE CHRIST. Matthew 23:12 says “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then in the blistering critique that follows Jesus goes after character issues and matters of the heart. He pronounces all the woes on the preachers/teachers of his day.
Let’s turn this upside down. Preaching what you practice speaks volumes before you even say a word. Who you are, what you do speaks very loudly about your character. If you claim to have Christ as Lord of your life, if you claim to follow Jesus, if you claim you are a “Christian” you should be asking yourself what your life preaches. Is it consistent with the Word of God? Is it consistent period, or do you have one face for one person and another face for another. Do you present a face period? Read it again. He says in verse 3 “for they say (preach) and do not do (practice)”.
Romans 2:21 asks us a question. “ You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” Do you preach like a house of fire, quote Scripture after Scripture, impress many with your command of the Word of God yet contradict it all by failing to apply all your wisdom and knowledge to your own lifestyle? How is it possible to preach and not practice? By doing it in your own strength, your own puffed up pride, and your own self righteousness. By doing it in a manner that says I don’t have to act the way I tell you to act. So would the quote be better said: Preach what you practice? If we do that and we are honest with ourselves, then many of us would not preach or teach.
Preaching what you practice is really a testimony to celebrate what God does through your life. Preaching what you practice is preaching/ teaching with experience behind it. Preaching what you practice pushes you forward to experience more of God, in order that there is more to preach/teach.
Scripture should always be preached but how much more effective will it be if we are living it out as we preach it? We cannot do anything unless God does it through us, and if God does it through us and we live it, then it is scripture come alive. Scripture that is alive is easy to preach. In the end it is important to preach what we practice, to have living faith that is guided by the Word and spoken through the Word, yet backed up by Christ that “liveth” in me.
Question for all of us: Do we resemble the cup washed on the outside but not the inside? Beautiful on the outside but full of hypocrisy on the inside? Character matters. Compassion matters. Can you afford to be a hypocrite? Do you practice what you preach or do you preach what you practice?