By Randy Yerby
This quote comes from brother Eugene Britnell from a recent gospel meeting held in Medina, Ohio. One of the local members who attended that evening tells me that brother Britnell had a very interesting message turning the cliché of “practicing what we preach” to “preaching what we practice.” While it certainly is true enough that members of the Lord’s body need to preach the faith that they hold so dear, I’m made to wonder: Can we truly preach what we practice? As is often the case with me, one question invariably leads to many more:
1. Where Would My Message Originate From? Would I be able to provide a thus saith the Lord for my every action? Paul says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). Many Christians who refuse to teach their neighbors and friends by the word, will often say that they preach the gospel by or through their “example.” The lesson from this passage is that our lives must also match the will of the Lord. A godly message is therefore free of hypocrisy, profanity, contradiction, and ambiguity.
2. Could I Preach That Every Member Should be as Faithful in Serving the Lord as I am? “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2b). Webster defines faithful as: (1) steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant . . . (2) reliable, trusted . . . (3) adhering or true to fact. . . (4) strict or thorough in the performance of duty. Does the preceding definition describe you and your service to the Lord? Does the standard of service you aspire to, match God’s standard? Christians are stewards of the most sacred of trusts ever given to man. We’ve been entrusted with the very personal gift of eternal life from God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:23). This fact should inspire us to exceptional and extraordinary dedication and service, not half-baked or half-hearted efforts!
3. Can I Preach the Way I Make Decisions as the Evidence of Where My Priorities Are? Would the lesson have as its text: Matthew 6:33; “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you,” because you’ve placed God first in your life? Or, would your message have as its text 1 John 2:15; “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” because the way you make your decisions reflects a greater love for the world?
4. What If Each One Of Us Was Made to Preach Our Practice of Assembling to Worship God? In light of God’s clear command for us “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25), how will we explain our practice of attending only for Sunday morning worship? By whose authority would you suggest that others attend as you yourself do?
5. To Which Passage Would You Appeal for the Manner in Which You Give to God? Again I wonder would the scriptural basis be Malachi 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You? In tithes and offerings.” Or, can we say that the basis of our giving is rooted in 1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” And 2 Corinthians 9:7, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Clearly the passages in 1 and 2 Corinthians will not harmonize with the verse in Malachi, yet, our actions speak loudly and clearly from which passage the lesson would find its basis. I’m confident that some of you would have a completely different set of questions that you could ask, but, that’s not really the point. Paul tells us that, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). The Lord’s message is damaged when the deliverer does not practice what the Scriptures teach. For example, you remember Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and countless others who’ve claimed to be men of God, yet they did not adhere to God’s will in a wide variety of areas. What would be done to the cause of Christ if you were asked to preach a lesson next Sunday regarding the manner in which you apply Christianity? To the ladies who say, “That’ll never happen, I’m not permitted to preach” consider the message your actions preach to your Bible class students, your chil- dren, and your grandchildren. Would you want others to follow the lesson you are preaching? Is the message God’s or yours? Can you preach what you practice?