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Practice What You Preach


As long as I can remember, I’ve heard the worn phrase, “practice what you preach.” Sometimes it’s in reference to the burden that pastors feel to perfectly implement into their lives the material they present to their congregations each Sunday. After all, who is inspired by, “You should obey God in this area of life, even though I don’t?” Sometimes it’s used colloquially as a challenge to those who hold opinions that may be inconsistent with their behavior.In my ministry I’ve discovered that God’s sense of humor allows me to live out whatever I’m preaching, whether I think I need to experience it or not. Take for example a Bible study I’m presently leading for a small group in our church on The Fruit of the Spirit. I love teaching the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s always relevant and draws out tons of conversation. In the past month I’ve observed that each fruit that I teach has been a point of challenge in my personal life. The week I taught “love,” for example, I had the chance to unconditionally love and forgive a family member. The week I taught “joy,” our rescue dog, Jackson, ate, of all things a razor blade (he’s fine, thanks for asking). The week I taught “peace,” I was confronted with a circumstance that was literally imploding before my eyes.

This week I get “patience.” My biblical understanding of patience is that patience deals primarily with difficult people, whereas endurance deals primarily with difficult situations. Of course my patience is being tried big time as I prepare to teach tonight’s lesson!

When I was young I would hear saintly people say things like, “don’t pray for patience or God will give it to you!” I’ve learned through the years that if God determines I need patience, it doesn’t matter if I ask for it or not, He’s going to work on that area of my character. And when he does, he uses difficult people to do it.

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