Though the title phrase does not exist in the Bible, the sentiment does in many verses and with various applications. Romans 2:21 is one example of such, “you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?” Consider even Jesus’ reminder to the people who were prepared to stone a woman for her sins saying “let he/those who are without sin cast the first stone(s),” and they all walked away.
There are so many public examples over the last few months that come from the political realm we can use as illustrations in understanding the importance of “Practicing What You Preach.” Not seeking to make this a partisan post, please note now that I include statements from folks on differing sides of the political realm.
Most recently President Obama gave public advice to the President Elect not to use the president’s power of executive orders too much. The irony being the number of times President Obama did such and even more times he threatened to do so and on very controversial issues. President Elect Trump backed away from several of his hyped up campaign promises that excited people and encouraged their vote. Within 2 days of his election, several of his promises/threats were backed away from. So he did as most have done before him and said what he needed to, to get elected, but lacked integrity in his words.
There were statements made Hillary Clinton and the First Lady that they would work with the new administration and they were taking the high road on dealing with criticisms and the like. However, in almost the same breath they pointed to indiscretions and made inflammatory accusations about the President Elect. On the other side of the fence people who pointed to faults, flaws and the weakness of the President Elect’s character from years past were quick to ignore such and jump on the bandwagon with hopes of gaining a position in the new administration. Even several who were unfairly criticized and lied about by PE Trump quickly forgot such when the opportunity for a new and powerful position was presented to them.
In the weeks prior to the presidential election claims were made that things could be rigged, or fraudulent. Those were scoffed at that idea then made those claims themselves after the election when the votes didn’t go their way.
Back when Obama was elected there were many claims that this was God ordained and the Lord certainly had a hand in this election. God brought about this presidency so everyone should heed this as such and fall in line and work together. Many of those same people, now refuse to accept that Trump’s election is even valid crying “not my president.” There were people calling for the impeachment of President Obama early in his terms. There are people now calling for the impeachment of PE Trump even before he has taken the oath of office. We seemingly only cry for non-partisan working together when that means work with me on my ideas, my side, my values.
Many news reporters long ago stopped being reporters and now fashion themselves as pundits. There really is little evening news to watch anymore. Most of it, liberal or conservative has become more like the evening opinion. Some have gone so far as to call for the destruction of holdings/properties of the PE Trump. So now the news people and (talk show people who have joined the rally cries) are insurrectionists and anarchists.
If you disagree with someone regarding any issue around race, sexuality, spirituality, politics or a host of other topics, you are judged for your opinion, perspective or belief as being “hate” or “hate speech.”
In our day to day relationships we hear words like “bullying,” by people who are doing the very same or worse. Our hypocrisy is also often evident in words like “do as I say, not as I do.” When we argue we close our ears because our mouths are so loud and busy saying what we think or believe and we “dig our heals in” without wanting to hear anyone else’s views or perspectives.
We allow ourselves to be swayed even more by friends who affirm us even when we are wrong. Or when a loved one tells a lie we take it as true because of our relationship bonds, so rumors take flight without reality being addressed. We ignore God’s wisdom “Without wood a fire goes out, and without gossip a quarrel dies down (Proverbs 26:20).” Instead we fuel the flames and make a bonfire from a spark. We feed on fiction “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost part (Proverbs 26:22)” and grow in strength, but it is not God’s strength it’s the devils.
I’ve learned over the last 20 plus years in the ministry how easy a target pastors and their families are, even from within the very congregations they serve. People will make accusations from hearsay, half-truths or even outright lies and defend them to the death. But if the pastor were to dare speak about them or try to bring the truth to light, the roof could fly off the church. There are ministers whose lives have been ruined by such lies and rumors by the people who claim the name Christian that spread them. I know several men who have left the ministry because of such evil.
Whenever I preach a sermon, I always have to preach it to myself first. I follow the old idea that when you are pointing one finger out at someone, you are pointing three back at yourself. We are all sinners. We all need the Savior. The devil is against us as Christians enough in the world. We dare not get caught up in allowing politics, stories, rumors and the like to cause dissension. The end of Romans 8 reminds us to let “nothing separate us from the love of Christ.” What we find is that the only thing that can separate us is ourselves. Don’t let anything stand between us as a Christian family either. Be Christ-like, and live for His love and each other. Never point the fingers out without looking in the mirror first. Never make accusations without listening to the other person first. Practice what you preach as a Christians, or better yet, let’s practice when Jesus preached.