The chef who doesn’t eat her own cooking. The designer who doesn’t wear his own clothes. The bricklayer who lives in a wooden house. We are understand that there are common reasons for the artist to be separated from their art or the worker from their work. The remark “it’s the cobbler’s children who have to go without shoes” was enshrined in the communal language in days of yore.
But it should not be this way with religious leaders. This was one of Jesus’ chief problem with the Pharisees.
“…they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
Matthew 23: 3&4
Those words should sting. Too much theology is launched out into the word, telling people how to live their lives, without the least consideration given to the great difficulty and even suffering it may cause. When we preach without the person and character Jesus forefront, it’s just painful moralism.
And you don’t get out of this by staying out of the pulpit. We all, those of deep religious conviction and those with none, try to convince others that our way is right from time to time. So Jesus says essentially, give it a test drive first, before you get up on that high horse.
When I give sober reflection to how well I practice what I preach, I am humbled. I am an imperfect soul seeking redemption. And I am glad to proclaim the truth written in God’s word, the Bible, but it is not without reason that it is described as a double edged sword. To start swinging that thing around wildly, and you get cut deep yourself.
So here is the question I sometimes ask myself before spouting off: Why do I feel I need to say this? Is it a genuinely helpful and loving insight? Or do I merely want to proclaim my own righteousness? Show people how much I’ve got this world figured out?
Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.