Most parents soon learn that their children imitate what they do more often than they listen to what they say. Who hasn’t had an embarrassing moment with their child when an inappropriate word or behavior was mimicked? Though we’d like to believe our children listen to what we say in the calm of a teaching moment, instead of doing what they have seen us do in a moment of stress or frustration, this often fails!
It’s too bad the Pharisees never learned this principle before Jesus came to town! The Pharisees were quite good at directing the lives of those around them, telling everyone how to live as holy as they. The problem with their message was its falsehood. The Pharisees didn’t practice what they preached.
Today, the Pharisees are looked down on as legalistic and lacking Christian love. While this describes their behavior, according to Jesus in His correction to them, He actually tells us to do what they said! This is an unpopular message against the idea that Jesus freed us from the law. But the truth is that He freed us to obey the law. And though we will never be perfect in this, we must work out our sanctification with His help. Works will never save us from our sins, only Jesus can do that. Still, we are instructed in the Word to obey the laws laid out by the Pharisees: “So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Matthew 23:3
Yes, the Pharisees are an example of “do as I say, not as I do.” With Christ’s help, we must make every effort to obey God’s Words to us. We cannot be an example to the lost world around us with a message for them to obey the teachings of Scripture while we do the opposite!
No one appreciates a “Pharisee”–one who demands of others what they will not do themselves. How can you respond to the words in Matthew 23:3 to assure that with His help you will be a doer of the Word?