"Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let's go hear the prophet tell us what the Lord is saying!' So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. Ezekiel 33:30-32
I was preparing to teach a lesson in one of my seminary classes a few years ago where my main point was "let your walk match your talk," yet I was not living out the very message I was going to be teaching in a few days. In this lesson, I was calling my classmates to be people of character and live lives that were consistent with their faith, but I was not doing the same. As I was preparing to teach, I realized that there was a person who I had withheld the whole truth from about a situation. It was not a big deal, and no one would have known if I continued to keep the whole truth to myself, but I had a nagging feeling that I would not be able to teach with a clean conscience if I kept it to myself. Because of this, I gathered my courage and told the whole truth to that person who needed to hear it. I do not say this to "pat myself on the back." I absolutely should have told the whole truth in the first place. While I made that difficult phone call and told the whole truth in that situation, I have not always made the right decision. I knew in that moment, however, that I did not want to teach in front of my classmates and friends while I knew that my lifestyle did not match what I taught. In other words, I did not want to simply be going through the motions, saying one thing but living differently.
In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet Ezekiel called out the Israelites for two primary sins. The second sin was "going through the motions" or pretending. In Ezekiel chapter 33, God revealed to Ezekiel that people had come to Ezekiel, claiming to hear God's message for the Israelites, yet they had no intentions of actually doing what He said. They were pretending to be sincere followers of God, but they were unwilling to change their lives in order to obey Him. They were going through the motions.
Have you been there? Has there been a time in your life when you were living disobediently, unwilling to change your life to obey? Perhaps you feel that you are currently going through the motions, but you are pretending that everything is okay. Commit today to stop going through the motions. Turn to God and commit to obeying Him, even when it is difficult.
If you are at a place in your life when you are simply going through the motions, claiming to love God but with your actions, you are disobeying Him or worshiping other idols, take time to tell at least one trusted person in your life today that you have been going through the motions. Tell that person that you are seeking to obey God with your words and actions and stop pretending. Ask him or her to help hold you accountable. If you find that you are living authentically and genuinely, not going through the motions or pretending, make a list of ways to ensure that you can continue to live a lifestyle where your actions and words are consistent.
Read Ezekiel 33:23-33 (NLT)
Then this message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, the scattered remnants of Israel living among the ruined cities keep saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he gained possession of the entire land. We are many; surely the land has been given to us as a possession.’ So tell these people, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: You eat meat with blood in it, you worship idols, and you murder the innocent. Do you really think the land should be yours? Murderers! Idolaters! Adulterers! Should the land belong to you?’
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live, those living in the ruins will die by the sword. And I will send wild animals to eat those living in the open fields. Those hiding in the forts and caves will die of disease. I will completely destroy the land and demolish her pride. Her arrogant power will come to an end. The mountains of Israel will be so desolate that no one will even travel through them. When I have completely destroyed the land because of their detestable sins, then they will know that I am the Lord.’
“Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the Lord is saying!’ So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it! But when all these terrible things happen to them—as they certainly will—then they will know a prophet has been among them.”
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