When two people give two different versions of the same story, I tend to believe the one whose daily life exhibits integrity, because I believe that people’s lives are the true measuring stick of their words. I take seriously advice from someone who lives a respectful life; not so much that from someone whose life lacks sincerity.
“The Intellectuals,” a book by Paul Johnson, discusses the inconsistencies in the lives of well-known intellectuals such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an Enlightenment thinker, Earnest Hemingway, an American author, Jean-Paul Sartre, a French Existentialist, Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright, and Karl Marx, the Communist theorist. The author doesn’t rely on speculation or hearsay but published information. The book shows that they preached messages that they themselves could not practice.
Take Karl Marx for example. He denounced the government as a tool for the Bourgeoisie to oppress the Proletariat, but he himself lived on government subsidies. He criticized the rich for exploiting the poor but in his own life, he didn’t pay his maid for several months.
Why did these people live such hypocritical lives? It’s because their ideas weren’t based on truth but on theory and speculation. Because they weren’t built on truth, they could not be lived out. Communism collapsed in less than 100 years because it was not based on truth.
The only person who had no discrepancy between what he taught and how he lived was Jesus. He proved that what he taught was true by his own life. And we can also verify the truthfulness of his teaching by following what he said.
People’s words should be authenticated by their lives. If you want business advice, go to someone who’s been successful in business. If you want health tips, go to someone who enjoys good health. If you have marital problems, seek advice from someone in a happy marriage. If you want guidance on child-rearing, go see someone who has already raised their children well.
Many people do exactly the opposite. People fail in their businesses because they follow advice from someone who never succeeded in business. People create more problems in their marriages because they listen to people who don’t have happy marriages themselves. People stop coming to church because they heed people who are not faithful church members.
Before you accept someone’s teaching, see if they live what they teach. Before you take someone’s advice, see if they live a respectful life.
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