Jesus’ definition of a hypocrite was someone who did not practice what they taught (Matthew 23:3). In my experience this is a surprisingly common phenomenon especially in my own life!
James also said this about the same type of thing:
22 But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.
So, here are some things that are easy to understand but hard to do that are challenging me lately. Perhaps you can identify with some of them:
- The cure to being overweight is to eat less. In my case, if I simply cut out eating cakes and biscuits with my teas and coffees I would do all I need (taking into account point 2 below) to get to my best weight. The trouble is I really like cakes and biscuits with my teas and coffees.
- The cure for flabbiness is more exercise (and point 1 above). In my case a few exercises every morning for about 15 mins coupled with 30 mins walk or a 20 mins cycle will do the trick. The trouble is I don’t like going out in the rain.
- The cure for impure thoughts is to catch them as they come up and bring them captive to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). The trouble is that deep down I enjoy them (yuk!).
- The cure for poverty is to live within my income, not to spend more than I earn. The trouble is I want the “freedom” that comes with being able to buy something when I want it.
The reality is that we are all, by nature, hypocrites to some degree or another. We can be no other way. Paul talks about this phenomenon in Galatians 5:17 (see also Romans 7:22, 23):
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
He also tells us the cure:
“Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfil the desires of the flesh.”
That is the real challenge.