(The following is the January 29 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Matthew 23 and pay close attention to verses 1-7.)
“Practice what you preach” is a common phrase. We don’t respect those who say one thing and do another. Why would we hold in high esteem one who speaks publicly of kindness but privately treats people with disrespect? We don’t admire politicians who promote admirable values in campaigns but live contrary to those values once elected. Nor do we trust those who publicly proclaim God’s Word but enjoy the sins condemned in Scripture behind closed doors. People who fail to practice what they preach don’t deserve our admiration.
Jesus acknowledged the value of religious leaders who taught scriptural truth: “Do whatever they tell you, and observe it” (v. 3). But he criticized their actions “because they don’t practice what they teach” (v. 3). They were hypocrites who wanted to look good more than to love God.
All of us have likely carried out hypocritical actions. We are born with a sinful nature, and we still fall far short of perfection after receiving Christ. Such failings demand confession, repentance, and dependence on God’s Holy Spirit to grow us into Christlike maturity.
Our hypocrisy negatively impacts others, including unbelievers. Once found out, hypocrites lose what influence they once had. Some people refuse to consider attending church, claiming it is full of hypocrites. Dr. D. James Kennedy responded to that objection: "Well, there’s always room for one more.” *
What Jesus condemned in this encounter is a deliberate, continued lifestyle of hypocrisy with no desire or attempt to obey God’s Word. That kind of faith cannot save anyone.
Practice what you preach, and preach what God’s Word teaches.
Is there any area of your life that conflicts with scriptural commands? Confess that to God. Ask for his help in overcoming that sin. If necessary, confide in a Christian friend or leader for accountability.
*R. C. Sproul, “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites?” Tabletalk Magazine, October 2009, http://tabletalkmagazine.com/article/2009/10/church-full-hypocrites.