“But I see your true colors shining through.” Cyndi Lauper sang the song, “True Colors,” in 1986. I remember this song as I read today’s gospel reading from Matthew. Jesus says, “Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow [the scribes and Pharisees’ example. For they preach but they do not practice.” I guess maybe in a sense, we see the true colors of hypocrisy shine through the scribes and Pharisees.
Jesus is encouraging alignment. What we say = what we do/who we are. Yet, how often, without even thinking about it, we say one thing and do another. Our word can become meaningless and empty.
We know intuitively when we are in the presence of someone whose words match their actions. They are real and authentic. They are genuine. They also are people who probably have practiced what they preach for a long time, and may have even adjusted and changed their practice along the way as they deepened their preaching. You see, what they preach is also what they preach to themselves. And, as that preached word intersects with their innermost being, practices can and do change. They learn a little bit more about the world, about people, about Jesus, and about themselves. And in that newfound knowledge, they realize how they themselves change, grow, and become more of who they are called to be.
I think practicing what you preach is a spiral that moves upward, taking us to greater knowledge and humility. Practicing what I preach isn’t about showing the world what I can do, or being the perfect example. Practicing what I preach is first and foremost about growing in greater intimacy and humility with my higher power. It’s about relationship. What comes forth from that is a genuine light that others may see. What comes forth from that is people who see a transfigured me, one whose outer light is in more alignment with the inner truth and light. Discrepancy diminishes. Authenticity becomes more apparent.
Have you ever taken time to take the long look back at your life and see what your true colors are? Have you looked at how you might or might not match up your practicing with your preaching? We all love to preach. We might not like to practice so much. That’s ok because we still have time to practice. Maybe while we are practicing, we might just hear Jesus singing, “I see your true colors and that’s why I love you.”