Contradictory behavior abounds. What do I mean by contradictory behavior?
Contradictory behavior is when we send one message with our mouth and yet act is an opposite manner.
Hypocrite is the term that is often used for someone who practices contradictory behavior on a regular basis like the person who always orders Diet Cola with their super size burger and super size fries.
As a pastor, I once had to settle a matter between two people as one person had taken the other person's Bible. We did a little Bible study on Exodus 20:15 using the Bible in question and settled the matter quickly.
I recently read a news item reported by Scripps News Service from St. Lucie, Fla., where someone who was employed as a Weight Watchers Demonstrator was apprehended for shoplifting cupcakes from the local grocery store. How embarrassing to be a Weight Watchers Demonstrator with the nickname "cupcake." Could that person go back to work after making those headlines?
No one appreciates hypocritical behavior. Some of the most scathing words that Jesus ever spoke were not directed to "sinners" but to hypocritically acting religious people. Contradictory behavior leaves everyone affected by it feeling cheated.
The problem is, we all practice contradictory behavior. We justify it, we rationalize it, sometimes we just do it because we feel like it. Not all of our contradictory behavior is funny or without serious consequence.
In an unguarded moment, we might be tempted to do something that we know is wrong, we might think we won't be caught so it won't make any difference, or we might get caught up in something we unwisely became a part of.
How do we avoid sending one message with our mouths and another message with our actions? The only way is to be in constant contact with Jesus. Paul called this, "walking in the Spirit":
Galatians 5:16 (NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
If we would keep our relationship with Jesus constant, it would leave little time to send contradictory messages. In fact the power of our message becomes great when what we speak matches what we do, even when we think people aren't watching.
By maintaining a constant relationship with Jesus, not weekly at church, or even daily as we start our day with prayer, but moment by moment be in conversation with Him, we will see our words and our actions line up and become something that affects everyone around us in a positive way.
So even though you might drink diet cola with your burger and fries because you like it, or you might not ever steal a Bible from a church, walking in the Spirit can help you to always tell the truth, not become involved in "road rage" or to be kind to the people around you.
You may not make headlines by walking in the Spirit but that may be its own reward.
Stephen Brown is the reverend at Kenai New Life Assembly of God at 209 Princess Street Kenai.
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