“The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe what they tell you – but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.”
- Matthew 23.2, 3 Preach diligently what Christ, the holy one, commands; what you ask of others should be what you yourself do.
- The Rule of Carthage
, Irish, 7th century
It seems pretty clear the unbelieving world has had its fill of Christians who raise their heads to sound off about the “big” moral issues of the day, but whose lives lack the substance of Christ’s love.
We expect the world to get in line with our morality – at least at certain especially offensive points – but, as the world sees us, we don’t live up to the everyday requirements of love and truth in our most basic relationships and roles.
It’s no wonder folks advocating all kinds of “alternative” lifestyles go ballistic when they think we’re trying to tell them what to do. We would have more credibility with the wicked of this world if we were more consistent in loving all our neighbors.
Certainly we must continue to insist on the truth of the Gospel and the moral wisdom of the Biblical way of life. But if we are to avoid the condemnation Jesus heaped on the scribes and Pharisees, we must work harder to live out the Gospel we proclaim, and not expect others to rise to moral heights we ourselves aren’t willing to scale.
This all brings us back to the Law of God at some point. Here the Lord’s requirements for what is holy and righteous and good are set forth (Rom. 7.12) so that we can take up the lifestyle of following Jesus, walking in obedience to God’s Law as He did (1 Jn. 2.1-6). Of course, we need to Spirit to teach and enable us to obey God’s Law (Ezek. 36.26, 27), and even when we succeed, it is really Christ in us, the hope of glory, living His righteousness out in our lives.
The Law of God encodes the heart and lifestyle of loving relationships, both with God and our neighbor. More meditation in and glad obedience to the Law of God on our parts would put us in a better position to prescribe its absolute requirements to the watching world.
If we will apply ourselves to working out our salvation in this way, we can be assured that God will be at work within us, making us willing and able to do what pleases Him, and what blesses our neighbors (Phil. 2.12, 13). Psalm 119.12-14
(St. Christopher: “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”
Who, Lord, can know his errors? O keep sin far from me!
Let evil rule not in my soul that I may blameless be.
O let my thoughts, let all my words, before Your glorious sight
Be pleasing to You, gracious Lord, acceptable and right! Lord Jesus, as You did not seek the glory of the world, but fulfilled the divine Law, so let me live, that You may be glorified in me.
Adapted from Sechnall, “Audite Omnes Amantes”