February 6, 2019
Jesus had amazing patience for all kinds of people: disciples who had difficulty learning, tax collectors who were greedy and selfish, people with physical and mental illness, and certainly children, whom adults considered a nuisance. But He showed no patience for phony religious leaders who knew the Scriptures but did not live by them.
In Matthew 23:1-3, Jesus taught the people to listen and obey the teachings of the religious leaders but not to follow their example because “they say things and do not do them.” He called those teachers “hypocrites.” Today we might use the term “phony.”
The familiar saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” applies to all of life, not just religious teaching. At a very early age, children use words and gestures that they observe in parents and caregivers. When they are appropriate, we rejoice in what they are learning. When they are not wholesome, we are embarrassed to admit where they most likely heard or saw them.
Our world today is not doing a very good job of offering examples of leaders living what they teach. In my growing up years, I remember hearing about people whom I admired making some very bad choices. One of my college professors, who influenced me greatly toward wanting to study the Bible, later made a choice that ruined his marriage. I felt ill when I heard about it. Fortunately, the story included repentance, but the damage was beyond repair.
I was challenged by a message from Andy Stanley to think about the story that we want our life to tell. When we make choices, what do we want to be a permanent part of our story? It would be commendable to be remembered as a helpful teacher of the Bible, but an even better legacy is to be known as one who lived what we taught.
Pastor Bill Ehmann