Sermons

Summary: A study in the book of 2 Chronicles 19: 1 – 11

2 Chronicles 19: 1 – 11

Practice what you preach

19 Then Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned safely to his house in Jerusalem. 2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to King Jehoshaphat, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. 3 Nevertheless good things are found in you, in that you have removed the wooden images from the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.” 4 So Jehoshaphat dwelt at Jerusalem; and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers. 5 Then he set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city, 6 and said to the judges, “Take heed to what you are doing, for you do not judge for man but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. 7 Now therefore, let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.” 8 Moreover in Jerusalem, for the judgment of the LORD and for controversies, Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he commanded them, saying, “Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart: 10 Whatever case comes to you from your brethren who dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the LORD and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty. 11 And take notice: Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the LORD; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king’s matters; also the Levites will be officials before you. Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good.”

Most of what I do in my ministry is getting other people to think and act differently. In other words, to do the dreaded “c” word: change. The irony is, when it comes to changing, I’m just as stubborn as everyone else. I don’t always practice what I preach. And I’m certainly not alone.

“Do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy has haunted man since the beginning of time. From hopelessly out of shape doctors telling you to eat right and exercise and self-righteous politicians preaching morality and love of our country, none of us want to admit that we’re all hypocrites.

As a sign of good faith that I’m not just pointing fingers here, let me be the first to admit that I am a hypocrite.

When it comes to practicing what we preach, we all have blind-spots. So, fess up: What do you preach that you never practice?

Life is full of contradictions. People say they want health food, but McDonalds still makes billions of dollars each year. People say they want to work satisfying jobs but end up chasing after the biggest paycheck.

I’m no different. I have plenty of contradictions between what I truly believe and how I behave. And I think anyone who says they don’t is lying to themselves. Practicing what you preach isn’t easy. It may be impossible to do it completely.

But even if you can’t escape the contradictions of modern living, you can lessen their impact. You can consult what you know to be true, and use that to guide you, instead of rationalizing your behavior and living a lie.

Cognitive dissonance is a fancy psychological term for something incredibly simple: when people hold two contradicting ideas, their minds start to fry. This can be something simple like, “I believe health is important” and “I just finished eating a bunch of donuts.”

Your mind can’t handle the contradiction, as a result it must go through one of two directions. The first is rationalizing: “I deserve the donuts, it’s been a hard day and I deserve some benefits for all that I do.” This is the easiest option, but it has long-term consequences. Whenever you start rationalizing a decision, you’re taken a shortcut that might make you feel better, but often ends in a poor choice.

The second option when you face a contradiction is to realize that one of the two ideas is false. Either your belief that something is true is mistaken, or your behavior was incorrect. Either you don’t believe health is important, or you shouldn’t have eaten so many donuts. You should have only had one or two at the most.

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