You have heard the saying. Practice what you preach! We say it to someone we are judging as hypocritical. Someone who is telling people to behave a certain way, even though the person doing the telling does not behave that way.
I was thinking about that this morning while working on my sermon for this coming Sunday. I often think, when I’m preparing a message, “is this something I am practicing in my life?”
I ask that question not because I think I should only preach about things I’ve mastered. If I did that, I would not have much to offer in terms of content for messages.
But, I ask that question because the content needs to be something people can practice. The content needs to be approachable. The hearers need to be able to pick it up and observe it, play with it, experiment with it.
The saying, practice what you preach, should maybe be re-written: preach what can be practiced. The content of my sermon needs to direct people to a way of living that has more to do with a posture, an attitude, a daily acknowledgment that none of us can actually practice what we preach.
That leads me to the point I’m trying to get to. If I am supposed to preach what can be practiced, my preaching needs to be more about our dependance on the grace of God and less on our performance.
Of course, the life of a follower of Jesus includes obedience. But, biblical hypocrisy is not about failure to perform. It’s about claiming to be righteous based on our performance. Failure to practice what we preach happens not when we fail to measure up to the message. Rather, it happens when we preach about a righteousness that can be earned.
Preaching what can be practiced is about preaching a message of righteousness through trusting in the sacrifice and resurrection life of Jesus.