Practice what you preach. We’ve all heard the saying at least once in our life. It’s easy to say, but not easy to do.
I think most of us hold ourselves to a certain standard, we know what is right and what is wrong. Whether we choose to acknowledge them is a completely different matter.
There’s a line from Alice in Wonderland the Musical (I was in it in elementary school *cringes*) that has stuck with me ever since I first heard it; “I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it.”
How true is that?!
For the sake of honesty, not to lift me up in any way, knowing the right answer usually comes easy for me. To be frank, I would call myself smart (well, not in math or science, by no means am I a scholar, and of course, I get confused… now I’m babbling, I think you get my meaning though).
I know quite a bit when it comes to intellect, which is not bad by any means. God gave us our brains to use and glorify Him with. I’m so grateful that He gave me a love and talent for words and their meanings.
If intellect just stays head knowledge, then, Housten we have a problem.
Theology becomes useless if it doesn’t change us.
If I use my own knowledge of God to put myself over others and do not practice what I preach, I’m no better than the Pharisees that Jesus condemned.
(If you need a more recent example, I would be no better than the conquistadors who proclaimed Jesus but killed entire races of people. Or the Crusaders who slaughtered thousands “for the sake of Christianity.” We all acknowledge how heinous these acts are.)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
I can tell myself to trust in the Lord because He is good and great all I want, but if that truth does not resonate in my heart then this becomes useless knowledge.
At the moment, life feels rather overwhelming. This school year has been particularly challenging, not just academically (Whewey! Don’t even get me started on chemistry!) but in other ways as well.
I have one situation that is particularly trying, one that if I approach purely with intellect would result in my heart growing a hundredfold more prideful. The hard part is, this is an intellectual situation, a situation where the other half is approaching the Bible with all heart and no substance.
When in a situation where I know I have the truth on my side, I have a choice.
We all have a choice.
When people are difficult, do we look at them and say “I know the right answer, but I’m going to do this my way anyway,” “I know the right answer and that makes me better than everyone who doesn’t,” or do we say “I know the right answer and because the love of God has penetrated my heart with love for you, I will stand for the truth.”
Standing for the truth should not be an act of pride. Or an act that asserts you over someone else.
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
We cannot be salt and light if we stand only for ourselves. Our light comes from the Holy Spirit living inside us and He calls us to share the truth boldly. (See Matthew 5:13-16)
Standing for the truth of God’s word should always be an act of love.
Nobody demonstrates this truth better than Jesus. He lived a perfect life. If anyone could say they were better than you, He could have. But that’s not what He did.
Jesus is the truth. But He didn’t put Himself over others.
In fact, Jesus was the most humble example of humanity we will ever encounter. Like I said, He didn’t have to be humble. He was God. To be blunt, He could have judged us all then and there and He would’ve been right to do so.
But that’s not what He did.
Instead, He showed the world the greatest act of love in all of history.
The Truth came to love us – us sinful beings who wallow in lies.
He is the greatest example of humility there ever was or ever will be. And if Christ, who was God, humbled Himself as He did, who are we to say that we are any better than some one else. He was perfect, and we are hopelessly flawed without Him.
“Have this in your mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
We should strive to be like Him. Yes, this is something my mind knows, it’s been ingrained in me since preschool. Yet, I still have to pray every moment of every day that God would move this truth from my head to my heart.
As one of my church leaders once said, “Wisdom is the application of knowledge.”
You can’t have application without knowledge, and you can’t have knowledge without application.
Faith without works is dead. Likewise, we can deduct that works without faith is also dead.
We need our minds, we need intellect, but above all we need love.
When telling the truth turns into a display of our own “rightness” then the truth loses its effect on people.
Love makes a universe of difference.
As Jesus told the disciples, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34b-35)
My friends, I am telling myself this as well as you (honestly I probably need to hear this more than anyone), we must love people.
Sharing the truth is an act of love, not of pride. Love and truth go hand in hand. Never ever ever ever ever shrink from standing for what is right, but by all means, we must do it with love in our hearts – love for God and love for humanity.
Love speaks volumes more than proving someone wrong.
(Photo from Pinterest.)