I always enjoyed teaching resident doctors the art of medicine – how to communicate to patients, showing them kindness and compassion. I taught principles that not only had value in the hospital, but in the doctors’ personal lives as well.
Lecturing about communication and kindness is a much less difficult task than actually doing it. Returning home from a hard day in the emergency department to a wife and three small children thrust me into an atmosphere that tested me. I could so easily make excuses for my unkind words and desire pity for my fatigue rather than choosing to practice what I taught.
The same tension can be true of my life as a follower of Jesus. At times knowledge and belief trumps conduct. Verbal ascent to loving God and my neighbor is much less stressful than actually loving God and neighbor. I find myself struggling with conduct that does not match my words and desiring pity rather than change.
The Children of Israel found themselves in the same situation when Ezekiel, speaking for God, told them,
I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will surely repay you for your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 7:4 NIV)
Will you, this week, choose with me conduct that matches our beliefs rather than excuses or pity when it does not?