Even a superficial examination of the statement “Do as I say, not as I do,” immediately produces the stink of hypocrisy. I suppose it is said with the wishful thinking that others (mostly children under our influence) won’t copy what we know to be our inconsistent and bad behavior – that somehow saying what is right will impress them more than the wrong actions they see in us.
Let’s take a look at this using an approach my readers see me use from time to time: The Good; The Bad; and The Ugly.
It’s good that you want them to do what is right. Lots of people don’t give other people a second thought. They are only thinking about themselves.
It’s good that you are saying what is right. Even if you’re not perfect you still must not compromise the truth. Even if you’re not perfect you still have to say the truth. Known personal flaws tend to tempt us to compromise the truth (to make ourselves look right, or at least better) and not speak the truth (to avoid the uncovering of our own personal sins or to avoid the charge of hypocrisy). Those who are only thinking about themselves compromise the truth and avoid telling the truth to others.
And it’s good that you don’t want other people to make the same mistakes you have made and are making. People should be able to learn from the mistakes of others and not insist on making them all themselves
So, there’s some good here – BUT DON’T STOP READING!
Paul told the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ. Ultimately, we don’t want people to “do as I say” – we really don’t want them following us – we want them to “do as Christ says!”
When children are young they learn to “honor father and mother” (Ep 6:1-3) – but they are supposed to be brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ep 6:4). Parental authority is to blend with God’s authority to where, eventually, the parent fades and the child is simply following God. The same is to be true in all our relationships. What “I say” should be founded in what God has revealed in His word (Co 3:17; 1 Pe 4:11). People may initially think something is your idea, philosophy of life, or opinion, but eventually they should learn that you aren’t just telling them to “do as I say” (but do as God says).
The “do as I say” approach is especially bad in the denominational world where whole churches are run on the ideas, philosophies, and decisions of men. Church members just go along with what they are told because their “pastors” and “priests” have educational degrees and their churches have given them power and authority to run things. In many cases, church members expect to listen to men because that is all they have ever known. They’ve been convinced that they can’t understand the Bible themselves and that others need to understand and interpret it for them.
Don’t use “do as I say” and don’t subject yourself to it!
As was stated in the beginning of this article, the hypocrisy oozes out of the “do as I say, not as I do” approach. Whatever good one might be trying to accomplish by saying it is destroyed by the ugliness of hypocrisy that everyone can clearly see. The only reason I pointed out any good in this statement earlier is so that I can say here that, if you REALLY want to accomplish any good, then you need to repent of the hypocrisy – you HAVE to remove the “not as I do” part in your statement and actions.
The inconsistency of hypocrisy is ugly because it undermines everything you say (and do). In this case you are saying what is right or wrong in the eyes of God – so your hypocrisy undermines what God says is right and wrong AND it compromises God Himself! This isn’t what we intend to do when we’re inconsistent, but it IS what happens in the minds of others.
When Nathan the prophet was sent to king David to confront him about his adultery and murder, David repented. But Nathan said, “However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you will surely die” (2 Sa 12:14). What David did caused people to think, say, and do the wrong things toward GOD! Who gets blasphemed by our inconsistency? The One we claim to be following, emulating, and obeying. The One we say is living in us!
“Do as I say, not as I do” is hypocrisy and intentional spiritual inconsistency. Hypocrisy and intentional spiritual inconsistency receives some of the harshest rebuke and condemnation that there is in Scripture. Do you see why? Do you see that when you say “don’t do what I do” that it implies that either you are above the law of God (and therefore God Himself) or you don’t care enough to do it (so why should anyone else care?).
Doy Moyer, recently put it this way: “it’s time that we quit pointing fingers at others and see our own complicity. We have loved the world while professing love for God, and in so doing we have destroyed our own credibility” (FaceBook 2/16/2018).
Let’s try to speak and live in such a way to be able to say, “Do as I say, and as I do!” And let’s repent when we fail this.