We’ve all heard the phrase “Practice what you preach.” That ranks up there with “Walk the walk and talk the talk.” These phrases have always struck me as backwards. What would it mean to preach what you practice and walk what you talk?
That puts the burden on you to authentically live out your Jesus-called life based on standards that will preach. That puts action before words. That puts do over hear. That’s a pretty good challenge, wouldn’t you agree? How are you doing with that? Are you more walk, or talk? More preach, or practice?
In yet another instance of Jesus vs. the Pharisees, we see Sassy Jesus enter the ring with his boxing gloves on. The crowd has gathered and is breathlessly waiting for the first verbal punch to be thrown.
Jesus does not disappoint.
Matthew 22 (Common English Bible)
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, 2 “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. 4 For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.5 Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. 6 They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. 7 They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’
“But don’t do what they do.” Upper-cut! “They are unwilling to lift a finger.” Jab! “They only do things to be noticed by others.” Right cross! “They love to sit in places of honor.” Left hook!
Time is called, and Jesus and The Pharisee return to their respective corners. From there, Jesus turns his head to address the crowd again:
8 “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. 9 Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10 Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher.
At this point the medic has been called to check on The Pharisee.
11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low.
But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.
Ding, ding, ding! The first round goes to Jesus. Of course we know that his boxing matches with the Pharisees will continue for many more rounds, just as our own struggles continue as we fight to turn our self-interest and pride into humble service and tangible action.
Our challenge today is to be genuine in love, humble in service, gracious in the face of hostility, and real in our approach to our neighbors…even when they are throwing punches at us.
So glove up! Let’s show the world that we are Team Jesus.