Practicing What We Preach
by John D. Morris, Ph.D.
“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
Christ’s life matched His teachings, and so must ours. Consider, for example, Christ’s teaching that we should “pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This is matched by His prayer for His tormentors while on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Elsewhere, He taught that our circle of influence should be greater than those of like thinking (Matthew 5:47), a fact that caused His detractors great consternation (Luke 15:2). He taught that our prayers should not be done so that “they may be seen of men” (Matthew 6:5). And the gospels record several times where He went “into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35; see also Mark 6:46). Christ placed great value on children, as we see in Matthew 18:6, and later He welcomed them (Matthew 19:14). He taught Peter to forgive “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22) and later forgave Peter for his continued denials (Mark 16:7).
Christ advocated paying taxes (Mark 12:17) and later enabled Peter to pay tribute for both of them (Matthew 17:27). He taught that “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15), and He Himself had “not where to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). Likewise, He placed great store in aiding the poor (Luke 14:13), both in teaching and in practice (Matthew 14:13-21). Perhaps His teaching “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44) is best illustrated by His tender prayer for those who would soon take His life as He hung on the cross for the very ones responsible for His death (today’s text), all the while dying for them.
May God grant us the strength to follow not only our own teachings, but His teachings as well. JDM