“Practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.” (Matthew 23:3)
You are not what you say you are. You are not what you think you are. You are not what others think you are. You are not what your job description says. You are what you do! It was the type of life people were living that merited them the name “Christian.” It wasn’t because they were called Christians that made them live like that. If you really want to know who you are, forget about your titles or what anyone is saying and find out what your actions (especially those you do in secret) are saying about you.
Being called a priest, a doctor, a lawyer or whatever does not make you one. Your actions are the true test of your identity. The scribes and Pharisees prided themselves as the religious leaders of the day but Jesus called them the name their actions depicted: hypocrites. They preached the truth but practiced falsehood.
Jesus told the people to obey their preaching but ignore their actions. Jesus even went as far as challenging the titles they gave themselves since their actions were a contradiction. Don’t call them rabbi. Don’t call them master. Don’t call them Father. They don’t deserve those. Call them by their names.
Is there a contradiction between what I preach and what I do? Am living in pretence? Then as the prophet Isaiah says today: “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doing from before my eyes, learn to do good, seek justice, correct oppression, defend the fatherless, plead for the widow…” (Isaiah 1:16ff). Do not simply answer a name. Become the name.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, show me the path of true holiness. Amen.
Bible Study: Isaiah 1:10,16-20, Ps. 50:8-9,16-17,21,23, Matthew 23:1-12).