Matthew 23:1-12 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and His disciples, 2 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you, but do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
5 Everything they do is done for people to see, they make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long, 6 They love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats at the synagogues, 7 They love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called Rabbi by others.
8 But, you are not to be called Rabbi, For you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth father, for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves are exalted
I have heard it said by atheists that Christians are hypocrites and don't practice what they preach. A hypocrite is a person who says they are one thing, and then they act totally different. They may act one way in certain company and then have opposite actions around different company. As Christians, it is very important that we follow Jesus' example on how we are to live our lives. The things we do and the words we speak should always reflect our faith no matter where we are or who we are with. We need to "walk the walk, not just talk the talk."
In Matthew 23 Jesus tells the crowds and His disciples to do what the Pharisees tell you to do, but do not do what they do, because they do not practice what they teach. So He is saying that they, "talk the talk." but they don't "walk the walk." If you look at Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells us, You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid. People should be attracted to the light of the words we speak and the way we live our lives. Others are watching us whether we like it or not. They see how we respond to the highs and lows of everyday life. Our children watch us and they copy what they see and hear. Do we want our children repeating our words and actions? Everyone we encounter in our daily lives, and those we don't even notice, are watching us. What kind of evidence do we show when we openly declare our faith? Do we respond differently than others who don't know Christ?
So, how do we practice what we preach? One way is to be mindful and aware about the words we speak. You can tell a lot about people by the words they use, and you can tell a lot more by the words they use under stress, when they are angry, or threatened. James says to us that the tongue is dangerous, It can set a forest on fire. We can tame all kinds of animals, but we cannot tame the tongue. It is a world of evil among the parts of the body (James 3:3-6). Christians and non-Christians alike are listening to our words. Do our words bring calm and peace into a situation, or do they just add fuel to the fire? Our words and actions should match who we claim to be. If we declare that we are followers of Christ, then our words and actions should be a reflection of our relationship with Christ.
We practice what we preach when our lives reflect the life of Christ. The way we act in church, and around other Christians should be the same way we act at home, at work, in the grocery store, or even waiting for a bus. My wife and I try to practice what you see is what you get. We act the same no matter where we are. When people see us, I hope they see a reflection of Christ. Do you try to live your life as a reflection of Christ? Do you practice what you preach?