We are all familiar with the saying, “Do what I say, not what I do.” We tend to call these people hypocrites. Not too many people will readily take advice from a hypocrite. Actually, not too many truly like to take advice from anyone. None of us like to be told what to do, rather we think we have the answers and want to execute life according to what we think not what anyone else thinks.
In the Old Testament book of I Samuel, Samuel lays out some instructions for the Israelites and amongst those instructions to the people he lays out his own personal responsibilities. Let’s take a look and see how it applies to our lives today.
Serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king. (I Samuel 12:21-25)
These verses can be broken down into three parts:
The Israelites responsibility: Serve the Lord with their whole heart
God’s response: The Lord will not forsake His people
Samuel’s Responsibility: Pray for the Israelites and instruct them in the right way
The people were not the only ones who had a responsibility. Israel was to serve the Lord with their whole hearts. God’s response to Israel’s obedience was that He would not forsake them. Samuel was not only supposed to pray for the people but also to teach them the good and right way.
I think we would all agree that those we respect are those who lead by example. A servant leader is much easier to follow than a boss or a dictator. It is much easier to follow the example of Jesus because He showed us how to live out the instructions He taught in the New Testament rather than someone whose life does not back up their words.
Samuel lived his life serving and fearing the Lord. The Israelites had an example to follow. Samuel walked with the Lord and modeled the behavior he expected from the Israelites. There was no hypocrisy or discrepancies in his life.
Hypocrisy will ruin relationships. Hypocrisy will ruin our character. Hypocrisy will ruin our integrity. Hypocrisy will ruin our reputation. Hypocrisy will ruin our testimony.
Avoiding hypocrisy comes through humility.
Humility comes through authenticity and fearing the Lord.
Authenticity comes with self-examination through a transparent relationship with the Lord and a humility with others. Do others feel comfortable pointing out your faults? When others do point out your faults what is your response? Proverbs gives us clarity.
“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2)
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” (Proverbs 19:20)
Avoid hypocrisy. Embrace humility. Seek Authenticity.