Let’s face it, organised religion is getting a lot of bad press these days. There are those in the media that would like to paint not only “religion” but all people of faith as hypocritical. Fair enough “religions” have made terrible mistakes and failed to truly promote the values of their founders, much less God Himself. This does not however mean that faith is invalid.
It is our faith, and our desire to live up to the values and expectations of God, that should drive us. In this light we should reflect on the “Great Commission.” If we are to go into all the world making disciples, we need to “practice what we preach.” If not, we will only feed the world’s “all believers are hypocrites” bias.
The 19th Century evangelist, D.L Moody noted, “A good example is far better than a good precept.” And while not a Christian, Mahatma Gandhi echoed this view when he said, “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” More importantly, Jesus made this a clear principle for us to follow, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16 ).”
This “teaching by example” is not just for our impact on skeptics, or militant atheists, however. We need to remember that we have weaker brethren, and our own children to consider as well. Roy L. Smith reminds us that, “We are apt to forget that children watch examples better than they listen to preaching.” Our actions, then, are the first step in our responsible raising of our young, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).”
With no intention of cliche, let us practice what we preach; and with full intention of cliche “if we are going to talk the talk, then walk the walk.” But better still, let us steadfastly remember Paul’s admonition of Philippians 4:8,
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
And by application, do these things!