Do As I Say, Not As I Do (2 Nephi 20)

by | Oct 26, 2016 | Scripture Study | 1 comment

thumb_lie_truth.jpg

Here are a few hypothetical scenarios:

  • Suppose I am a church officer, perhaps a representative of the finance committee, and I come to your branch and present an impassioned plea for all of you to donate as much as you can to the church. During questions and answers, it somehow comes out that I myself don’t donate at all. You ask me, “Why should we donate to the church if you don’t?” How shall I respond – “Do as I say, not as I do”?
  • Now suppose I’m a member of the ministry and I preach on the sinfulness of adultery, and then it comes out that I in fact indulge in sexual indiscretions. Do as I say, not as I do?
  • I’m a Sunday school teacher, teaching about the 10 Commandments, when I regularly cheat on my taxes and am often dishonest in my dealings with other people. Do as I say, not as I do?
  • Or, I’m a new member of the church (or any member of the church) and I tell my friends about how much the church has changed my life and how thankful I am that I no longer live the type of life I used to. Perhaps my friends still live this type of life, and I’m letting them know they would do well to check out the church. Yet, I still frequent the bars; my language is still filthy; and I don’t even make it to church very often. In short, my life hasn’t really changed that much after all. Do as I say, not as I do?

In each of these examples, the teaching presented is solid. Donating to the church isn’t less right because the person saying it doesn’t do it. Sin isn’t any more acceptable because the person cautioning against it is indulging in it. Coming to Christ is no less life-altering just because some people don’t put the “old man” to rest.

However, these messages do in fact carry considerably less credibility when the person saying them does not live by them. There are many people who believe that all Christians are actually hypocrites and every time another example like this comes to light, it reinforces that belief.

It’s true that we are all human and we all make mistakes from time to time; however, let’s understand that some of the things we may do that are contrary to the teachings of God can affect the faith or potential faith of others. I would feel terrible if my actions caused someone else to decide that church is not for them. At that point, it would sound hollow to say that it’s nobody else’s business but my own if I want to live my life that way.

We are each representatives of the Lord and also of The Church of Jesus Christ. The way we live our lives will cause others to make judgments regarding the Lord and the Church. Let’s try our best to make those judgments positive.

The prophecy in 2 Nephi 20 tells of a time when Israel would cheat the poor, the needy, the widow and the orphan by collecting money for them but not in fact helping them at all. It was prophesied that God would use the army of Assyria “against [the] hypocritical nation…to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (2 Nephi 20:6). Clearly, God does not look favorably on “Do as I say, not as I do.”

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.

Author

  • Brother Jerry Valenti

    Brother Jerry lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with wife Sister Pat and daughter Maria.

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    … or suppose I’m either U.S. presidential nominee.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further Reading

Let the Dead Bury Their Dead

I heard the following story about 20 years ago. It may or may not be true, but it provides a good intro for this article. In the late 1990s, the most popular play on Broadway was the stage adaptation of Disney’s “The Lion King.” It was very difficult to get tickets...

Read More

You Never Know What You’re Going to Catch

Jesus concludes a day of sharing parables with this one: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but...

Read More

Never Miss a New Article

Subscribe to Our Email List
Sign up and get every new blog post sent straight to your inbox so you always have the day’s devotional at your fingertips.

We never share your email address with anyone for any reason, and we use it only to send you Gospel Blog emails. Just articles, not ads!

Your Story for God’s Glory

Share Your Testimony on Miracle Monday

We devote Miracle Monday to sharing miracle stories. From finding a lost wedding ring to healing cancer on the spot, Jesus Christ has done it all, big and small.

And we want to hear about what He’s done for you.

The Gospel Blog Is Open for Submissions

We encourage devotional-style or scripture-based articles in the ballpark of 500 words. We are open to any topic that glorifies God and unites the Church.