Do As I Say Not As I Do
One hears this phrase quoted by parents all the time, and I can’t count the times I have said it. But, what are we communicating when those words come out of our mouths?
The words, Do As I Say Not As I Do communicate that we are too lazy to do what we are telling someone else to do. We communicate that they should be held to a higher standard than we are holding ourselves which creates great discord between the person speaking and the person being addressed. Trust weakens as well as belief.
Too Lazy And Detrimental
Not only is this detrimental in our earthly relationships, but also with our relationship with the Lord. God Himself addresses the issue of a man seeking to listen and not do in James 1.
But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in the mirror. For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But the one who looks ineptly into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but one who does good works—this person will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25
When we come before God and try to use the excuse we give to our children or others, we are reminded that He has not called us to passivity. God is a God of action and does not tolerate those who are content with sitting on the sidelines.
Jesus modeled clearly for us while on earth what it looks like to not only listen but also do. For example, Jesus didn’t just hear the Father and then say to His disciples, do as I say and not as I do. Jesus obeyed and was faithful in it.
Putting It Into Practice
It does require a lot more of us to put into practice the things God teaches us through His Word and in prayer. He has called us to be good stewards and not squander the gift He has given to us, and He knows that the highest chances of retaining what we have been taught is by doing.
We see it in the classroom setting all the time. When students physically do what they have just been taught the chances of the students remembering and making it a habit increase.
As a former English teacher, helping students remember and apply what they were reading and studying was challenging at times. We often used a tool known as the KWL to help the students retain what they were learning.
Jesus did the same by not just teaching the disciples, but then sending them out to do what He had not only said but had also done Himself.
Easier Said Than Done
To use another age-old adage, all of this is easier said than done. It is so much easier to be a hearer than a doer. It doesn’t take a whole lot to listen but requires a lot more of us when we have to apply what we have learned.
For instance, if I have my time with the Lord in the morning and then go about my day without giving a second thought to how God wants me to apply it to my life that day, then I deceive myself (James 1:22). I must be willing not to be satisfied with what the Lord has spoken to me, but must be ready to go and do it!
It is one thing to study, pray, and read the Word. But if we are to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2), then we have to do what Christ has told us and modeled for us to do.
If you have found yourself as I have on many occasions falling back into the comfortable fleshly chair satisfied with listening to God’s great works and wisdom and not being willing to take what is being taught and put into practice, then the first thing we must do is confess our sin of passivity.
Once confession and forgiveness have been received, then the next thing for us to do is to seek God’s guidance. How does He want us to do what it is He is asking us to do?
When He reveals it to us, then the final step is to