There are, in the end, only two kinds of people: people who do what they say and those who don’t. Do you and I walk our talk? Jesus called the former group of people “hypocrites,” play-actors who wore a mask that hid the true self underneath. God desires that we be genuine, unhypocritical, and real—the same on the inside as we are on the outside.
This is easier said than done. Only by the grace of God can we be the kinds of people God wants us to be. Yet follow-through is of absolutely critical importance, as James, the half-brother of Jesus, told his readers: “But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forget what kind of man he was. But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who acts—this person will be blessed in what he does” (Jas 1:22–25).
As far as we know, James did not become a believer in Jesus until after the resurrection. But doubtless he was familiar with Jesus’ similar words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). Let us be careful, therefore, to be doers of the word and not hearers only. Let us not merely study the Bible but do what it says.
Karl Marx was born into a Jewish family, but his family later became Lutheran, and Marx was baptized at age 6 and confirmed at 15. But Marx showed absolutely no fruit of the Christian faith. To the contrary.Marx’s life abounded with hypocrisy and self-contradiction. He, the self-proclaimed advocate of the working class, knew virtually no workers personally, and did not pay the one servant that he had. Rather than work with his own hands, he lived off his inheritance and family money. His mother lamented that perhaps he should accrue some capital of his own by working rather than simply writing about it. How pitiful!
In response, we should say, “There, but by the grace of God, go I.” But we should also aim to thrust ourselves upon Christ, exclaim, with Paul, “What a wretched man I am!” (Rom 7:24), and live our lives fully in the strength supplied by God—“I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13)—and do our best to “walk our talk,” to the glory and praise of God.