I love these words of Jesus:
“So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” – Matthew 23:3 (NLT)
So now we know where that hypocrite’s creed comes from.
“Do as I say, not as I do.” No doubt many of us have known people who seemed to adopt that saying as their life’s motto. Perhaps at some point we have been one of them.
The interesting thing about such a statement is that one who says it or patterns their lives by it knows the difference between right and wrong. In theory they understand what they should do.
But head knowledge does not always equal heart knowledge. And it is heart knowledge that will determine what words, behaviors and actions come out of us.
Jesus said that the Pharisees had their lecture right, but they failed the lab.
They knew how to talk but their feet moved in a different direction.
Isn’t it easy to deceive yourself into thinking you’re doing right just because of your outward actions? Outward appearances have fooled many a Christian into a place of undeserved comfort.
It’s easy to put on a show for the public when you go to work or church or when you’re interacting with those who live in your neighborhood.
It’s gratifying to hear people rave about our Christ like ways and spiritual maturity. But when it’s only an outer front, it’s only gratifying to our flesh.
Aren’t you glad that what God told Samuel when he was in the process of anointing David as king of Israel still stands?
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)
Let’s remember that.
So often we put on appearances because we’re more concerned about the audience of people that surround us than the audience of One in Heaven who sustains us.
In Matthew 23, Jesus reminded His disciples and anyone else who would listen that what we do carries more eternal weight than what we say.
And why we do what we do is even more important.
May God give us strength to make sure that who we are in public and who we are in private are identically united to give God glory.
May He make us increasingly dissatisfied with settling for having impressive flesh that only serves as a covering for a rotting heart.
Or as my father often told me when I was young:
“Be careful not to do the right thing for the wrong reason. Doing what’s right with a wrong heart is still wrong.”
Gabriel Stovall covers sports and religion for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald Newspaper. He is also a church planter and pastor at NewLife Church which currently meets in Forest Park. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @GabrielCStovall on Twitter.