Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 29-30; Matthew 21:23-46


28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’

29 “‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.

30 “The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which one of these two did his father’s will?”

They said, “The first one.”

Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. 32 For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him (Matthew 21:23-46, Common English Bible).

“Do as I say, not as I do.” I know you have heard it said before. Perhaps you even live those words. Question: How’s that working out for you?

I remember as a kid my dad telling me I shouldn’t smoke. He said it was bad for me. It would be better for me if I didn’t. It was bad for my health. And, I would save money if I didn’t smoke (The reason I actually quit smoking). As he was saying this, he was smoking. You know what is coming, right? I started smoking when I was 15. I am not saying my dad was at fault for what I was doing. That was all on me. Still, I thought what my dad was saying was pretty hypocritical.

The thing is, “Do what I say, not what I do) doesn’t work. It never has and it never will. When our actions match our words people tend to listen to us far more often.

In today’s lesson, Jesus talks about a man and his two sons. The man gave the sons something to do. One said he wouldn’t, and did. The other said he would, and yet he did not. Jesus then asks, which one of them did the will of their father? The answer of the Pharisees was, “the first one.”

The answer has to be the first son. He was the only one who actually did something. He was the only one who did what the father asked for. Though he said he wouldn’t do it, he did anyway.

What I see here is a case of, “judge me by my actions, not by my words.” I think that is how we should see people. I am not crazy about the idea of “judging” people. Still, actions are the thing that carries the freight when people see us, they do judge us by our actions, regardless of what I think about judging people.

Please understand, words are important. Our words can hinder or they can help. They can say sweet nothings or they can be used to rip someone apart. So words do matter. But it is actions that matter most.

As I see this scene is playing out because the first son said he wouldn’t do the job, the father wouldn’t suspect that son A did it. Because the second son said he would do the job, the father is going to believe it was the second son at work. His words were good but he didn’t follow through.

I can’t imagine telling my father no when he gave me a chore to do. There would have been serious repercussions. My father listened to your words and took action himself.

I think the first son realized he was wrong and took action to fix the problem. The second son, not so much.

I learned when I was a kid to say, “Yes Sir.” to my dad when he gave me an assignment. Then I followed through. It is what we all should do.

Our actions need to match the words we say.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With joy and thankfulness.

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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