“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” (Hebrews 10:24 NIV)
How can we provoke others in loving others or doing good deeds, if we are not doing them?
The most powerful method to getting someone to do what we want them to do, is to show them by example how things should be done. We must remember that most people may hear what we say and forget what was said almost as quickly as we said it. But they will remember what they see us do–good or bad--so let’s do what we want others to do, rather than talk about it.
When we want others to live a life that’s pleasing to God, we must first consider how we live our own lives and make whatever adjustments are needed. We cannot convince others of anything that we are not doing. We cannot afford to be the kind of Christians who want others to “do as we say, not as we do.”
The “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy never works. It didn’t work with parents, the religious leaders of yesteryear, or anyone else in authority. People–especially children–are more inclined to do what they see us do. And when we don’t do what we expect others to do, we become hypocrites. This is why Jesus called out the religious leaders (Luke 11:44–KJV; 12:56 and 13:15 NIV)--they expected the people to just do what they were told, even though they were not doing what was right.
Get a notebook and write down everything you have ever told someone else to do (that’s right) and then write down what you do. Don’t cheat yourself–God knows! When you have completed your list, what changes need to be made–by you; not others? When we are honest with ourselves in correcting those things that we need to correct, then we can expect different results from the people we try to influence.
We cannot preach or teach love and forgiveness and then judge and condemn others. Our job is not to judge or condemn people; but to love them and pray for them when we see them going astray. But then, what do they see us doing?
We cannot just talk about sin–all of them–and then live any way we want to live in front of others and expect them to change what they do. They are watching us and doing what we do.
We cannot just tell children how to act when they don’t see us doing what we’re telling them to do. Remember the Public Service Announcement when a dad asked his son how he learned to do drugs? His son responded by saying, “I learned it from watching you.” What do your children or grandchildren see you do? Is it contrary to what you say?
I am many things, but I have never aspired to being a hypocrite. I try always to watch what I say and do because I want to be able to provoke others to living the best life they can as a Christian, a parent, a student, a spouse and a child. I am still a child–in my Father’s eyes–so I must demonstrate my obedience in the presence of others if I expect them to obey Him.
Let us provoke others–to obey, to love, to forgive and to pray–at all times for all things and people. We can pray for peace, for justice, for mercy, for healing, and anything else that aligns with God’s Word and expect Him to respond to our prayers.