“… but do not do according to their deeds, for they say things and do not do them.” (Matthew 23:3)
In Matthew 23 Jesus reserves His harshest words anywhere in scripture for the scribes and Pharisees. He repeatedly calls them “hypocrites” in this chapter, and here He tells us what He means by that: “they say things and do not do them.” These men were hypocrites because they were always telling other people the “right” things to do, while they themselves did not do the very things which they prescribed.
Let us make sure that we are not found in their position:
— If you are a Sunday School teacher or Bible study leader, don’t just sit there and lecture your class on all the “right” things they should be doing, while you are making no sincere effort to do them yourself.
— Don’t tell your kids or other relatives the “right” way to live, while you yourself are not living that way and never have. “Do as I say, and not as I do” will not fly with your family — or with anyone else for that matter!
Now, to be clear, this does NOT mean that we cannot teach anything in the Bible which we are not perfectly living out ourselves — in that case, our teaching would be very limited indeed! But to be people of integrity, deserving the ear of our listeners, we should at least be making a sincere, good faith effort to apply what we are teaching from the word of God, in our own personal lives. If we are not, then we are condemning ourselves, for we are in the exact same position as the scribes and Pharisees of Matthew 23, whom Jesus called “hypocrites” (:13) and “sons of hell” (:15).