12/31 Matthew 23:3

3 so do and observe whatever they tell you but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

Jesus' harshest condemnation was spoken to the Pharisees. They were the group that taught the Scriptures and tried to live every minute detail of God's law. In our verse today, Jesus told the people to listen to their teaching but don't follow the way they live. This is where we get the expression, "Practice what you preach."

Jesus went on to say that the Pharisees gave difficult instructions that they don't attempt to follow themselves. They would make long public prayers so that all could see them. They loved their special titles such as, "father," "rabbi," or "instructor." They loved seats of honor at gatherings. In fact, everything they did was a show to boost their standing in the eyes of others.

Jesus' way was quite different. He would sometimes tell people He healed not to tell anyone about it (Matthew 8:4). His was a humble path that often walked away from adoring crowds. Every action was obedience to His heavenly Father and for the glory of the Father (John 5:19, 17:4). Jesus lived what He taught one hundred percent of the time. His life exemplified His teaching. If we follow Him, we should do the same. The world needs to see more examples of Christians living their faith. A life of service and love can speak much louder than a sermon.

Consider: The poet, Edgar Guest, once wrote, "I'd rather see a sermon than to hear one any day; I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way. The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear." I would add, "I'd rather you would show me than to merely bend my ear."