Bible Teachers, We Are Most Vulnerable to Hypocrisy. Beware.
Just yesterday, I remembered a sad event in my life from long ago. It was a time when, unconsciously, I was breeding a rotten character within me. I was eventually rebuked and I voluntarily took a rest from the ministry so I could reflect and prepare myself for the future. I had been teaching the Bible for a long time when this happened. Now, I say to myself, “What a hypocrite I was!”
It dawned on me that preachers, Bible study facilitators, seminar speakers, lecturers, authors, bloggers, small group leaders, and anyone else who teach the Scripture are most vulnerable to hypocrisy. In his excellent book The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul writes:
Ministers are noteworthy of their calling. All preachers are vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy. In fact, the more faithful preachers are to the Word of God in their preaching, the more liable they are to the charge of hypocrisy. Why? Because the more faithful people are to the Word of God, the higher the message is that they will preach. The higher the message, the further they will be from obeying it themselves.1
This is scary yet true. Preachers, and likewise Bible teachers, are “vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy.” The more faithful we are to the Word of God, the higher the message we will teach, and the further we will be from obeying it.
So what should we do then? What should be done so that we will not go further from obeying the Word of God? I think of three practical applications:
1. Pray and ask for prayers. I realized that teaching the Bible is relatively easy compared to actually living it out. We will need God’s help if we want to apply the Scripture in our lives. We can start by humbling ourselves and pray for God’s guidance. Philippians 4:13 says:
13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
2. Practice what you preach and preach what you practice. Your eyebrows may be raised by the time you read the second imperative. But let’s leave it for now and focus on the first one.
Most of the time, we teach too much that we barely have time to apply what we teach. I suggest that we take some time to apply what we are teaching, or at least look for opportunities to apply them. James 1:22 tells us to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Now, let’s go to the second imperative, “Preach what you practice.” Most of the times, we get too excited teaching on matters that are new to us or we have no experience with, that we forget about the matters the Lord had been teaching us or had been working in and through us. But let us not forget to teach these matters to people. Let us preach on the things we are already practicing.
3. Hold yourself accountable. Look for people who can check on whether you’ve been applying what you are teaching or not. And of course, humble yourself before them.
That being said, I now would like to grab this opportunity to ask for your prayers as I continue to devote myself to the ministry of teaching the Word. I need the Lord’s protection against hypocrisy and His guidance on applying what I teach.
It’s my prayer that all teachers of the Bible will not only be faithful in teaching the Word, but will also commit to live out what they’re teaching, guarding themselves against hypocrisy.
1R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 1998), 41.