You’ve probably heard a pastor remark during a particularly pointed exhortation, “I’m preaching to myself.” That line is often used to reassure listeners that, “Yes, what I’m telling you is a hard word, but it’s one first and foremost for me.”
I have always respected this attitude but recently came to appreciate it in a deeper way. Scrolling through Instagram, my eyes fell on a scripted quote overlaid neatly on a soft-focus photo: “You will never turn from a sin you don’t hate.”
It felt like divine timing. The message came not long after I had committed a familiar sin, one of those I had hoped was behind me. A believer for over four decades, I was keenly aware that the Lord’s patience should have run out on me by now on this particular weakness. How was I still battling it?
The answer was spelled out before me: I didn’t hate it yet. Not like I should. Not completely enough to extinguish it once and for all. Like Lot’s wife, I had turned back toward something I should detest, something from which I had been dragged free. With my conviction and confession still fresh, God chose to deliver a miniature sermon to me via Instagram. Using, of all things, my own words.
The sentence was mine, written in my books and taught by my lips for years, properly attributed for all to see. In the strange alternate universe that is social media, I was literally preaching to myself.
It is the great liability of a teaching ministry: knowing you will likely out-teach your own ability to obey, knowing there will be days when you will not practice what you have preached. But it’s also a liability of the Christian life. Paul exhorted his listeners to follow him as ...1
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