1 John 1 • Devotion #4: Practice What He Preaches

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice truth.” 1 John 1:6

Truth be told, I would rather write a devotion on just about any other topic than this one. We have all heard the phrase “practice what you preach.” Parents, if we are honest with ourselves, the phrase “do as I say not as I do” has characterized our parenting at one time or another. My husband and I are addicted to pop. Sadly, we have passed this down to all three of our children. We frequently discuss how unhealthy this is and our need to quit. Now, every time I pour myself a pop, my son proudly announces, “Look, I am drinking water!” There is nothing like your own child whacking you with the hypocrisy stick right between the eyes.

As a teenager, I was tormented by hypocrisy. In those days, we called it “two-faced.” I struggled with friendships as I found girls to be prone to drama and being two-faced. On Friday, I would have a great sleepover with my best friend, Katie and by Monday was the subject of her vicious rumor. The pain and lack of trust still affect me today. It amazes me that God has called me to serve women. I think He loves irony.

In preparation for writing this, I Googled “hypocrisy in the church.” Statistics indicate that as many as 72% of people who do not attend church do not go because of hypocrisy. Brennan Manning is quoted as having said, “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. This is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable.”

Until about six months ago, this kind of hypocrisy was something my family read about or heard about in the news. Now, it is a reality as we learn of past and present mentors who have been living contrary to how they profess. I can not describe the pain and disillusionment I have experienced as I try to make sense of all that has happened, and as I try to help others deal with it as well. In order to cope, I have been brought back to several truths.

Jesus taught, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:25). 

I have been reminded of the importance of building my life upon Him, His example, His love, His faithfulness, and His promises. Our dependence on self and others leads to destruction. God also tells us all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), including our shepherds. God warns us saying, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust man” (Psalm 118:8). God promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

While these truths bring comfort and have helped me to turn my focus to Him, there is also the truth that convicts and calls me to self-examination. All believers are called to be His ambassadors and His representatives (2 Corinthians 5:20), and we are warned about causing others to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:9). I have come to realize that I have been so consumed with the sin of those around me that I have become blind to my own. I have no problem seeing the speck in their eye but ignore the plank in my own (Matthew 7:3-5). I am often guilty of weighing sin. Certain sin committed by certain people is less forgivable than my own. However, with God, sin is sin (James 2:10), and all sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2).

This week God shed light on hypocrisy in my walk, and it has rattled me to my core. A lady at church said, “Holly, I love how transparent you are.” At that moment, I saw the enormous plank in my eye. I am ashamed to say that I now realize my honesty about my struggles has given me license to continue in my sin and has stunted my spiritual growth. In other words, it is ok to fall short as long as I admit it. Believer, I now know the slippery slope I have been riding. I have become apathetic toward my sin in the name of transparency. By claiming to be one of His while choosing to live in darkness, I am a liar.

Believer, what if you are the only face of Christ they ever see? What if you are the only Bible they read?

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 John 2:6

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