A certain man studied structural engineering in college. He persevered and received a degree in that science. He was given a position at an engineering firm where he engineered the designs on multi-story buildings. He became known for his knowledge of engineering, and became an accepted authority on the subject by his peers. There is nothing abnormal about that.
The abnormal part is as follows. He became full of himself, and made others working around him feel unworthy and ignorant. In addition, he designed buildings while totally ignoring all accepted standards of engineering. Would you trust an engineer who practices such nonsense?
You might find this sad and horrifying. You would not be alone in that thinking. Let’s see the basics of this story applied to the area of Christianity.
A certain man reads and studies the teachings of Jesus Christ. He becomes very knowledgeable in that area becoming an accepted leader in his church due to that knowledge, but, outside of all church activities, he gossips, judges, shows hatred, forgives no one, and gives only when he will receive acclaim. Can you trust that man as a Christian? Of course, it is appalling, but happens more than we like to admit.
As Christians, we must work at making our actions and words outside the church atmosphere match with our good actions and words inside the church. Yes, we are all recovering sinners, and therefore not perfect, but we must be working at living more and more in Christ’s example. We must be diligent in our efforts to emulate the actions and words of our Lord, Jesus Christ…not just memorize or preach them. If we ignore this, we face the prospect of becoming hypocrites. We must work at becoming good servants and good examples. Jesus’ encounters with hypocrites were moments that give me a sensation that he was close to anger. We must learn the true spirit of the law and administer it with love and forgiveness.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
(Matthew 23:13 NIV)
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
(Matthew 23:23 NIV)
Knowledge is one thing, but application is another. I do not wish to be a man who knows so much, but practices so little.