Does Your Life Speak Louder Than Your Words?

SHOULD FAITH BE OUTSPOKEN OR LIVED OUT? IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE VOCAL ABOUT OUR BELIEF, BUT HAVE WE TALKED TOO MUCH AND NOT FOCUSED ON THE DISCIPLINE OF DOING?

We’ve all heard the all too familiar saying, “actions speak louder than words,” and in life that adage has consistently proven true. When words outperform behavior there’s a continual disconnect between intent and authentic change. If someone claims they want to give up certain life destructive behaviors but repeatedly lies, they are illustrating that the words they say are untrustworthy. No judgment, we’ve all been there and God’s grace has been the constant hand to pull us out. However, as we mature in our faith and grow deeper in our walk with Christ, shouldn’t relapses happen less and less? Shouldn’t we gain higher levels of spiritual mastery over the sin nature as we become more Christ-like? Yes!

Especially when it comes to our faith there should be a congruence between what we say we believe and what we do. The principles we profess to be life anchors only impact other people when they are on full display in our own lives. The Bible supports this idea of faith on display but not in a superficial “check out my cool bumper sticker kind of way” but instead it should be as Jesus tells His disciples, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15). James also warns Christians that faith without works is dead. The apostle Paul encourages the new young preacher, Timothy, to watch both his life and his teaching. All throughout the Word of God, it places the utmost importance on behavior organically following belief.

So what does this look like? Maybe it means instead of thinking about the kind gesture you should do for a co-worker, you actually sacrifice and do it. Learning to act more on the good impulses God drops into our heart is half of the battle. How often are those good deeds reasoned into extinction? If you see something that makes you angry or an injustice that leaves you bewildered, take action against it. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on the “discipline of doing,” that is the art of truly bringing your belief to life in all that you do. It’s a challenge that will not always come easily or be the most comfortable, but truly will be worth it.

Have you checked your faith’s pulse lately? Where would you fall on the spectrum? As believers, the doing has to become just as important (if not more) as the words we say. The Bible says Christians should be salt and light. Whenever salt is added to anything it enhances it, makes it better. Light drives out darkness and brings truth to the surface. God is calling the Church to live out their faith and let the Christ in them lead to action oriented Christian living. It’s time that others notice who you are by your actions and not simply by the words you speak. If what we say is the only foundation we build on, it will soon crumble and wash ashore when the inevitable storms of life come.

My Utmost For His Highest

“I Indeed. . . But He”

I indeed baptize you with water…but He…will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  Matthew 3:11 Have I ever come to the point in my life where I can say, “I indeed…but He…”? Until that moment comes, I will never know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit means. I indeed am at the end, and I cannot do anything more— but He begins right there— He does the things that no one else can ever do. Am I prepared for His coming? Jesus cannot come and do His work in me as long as there is anything blocking the way, whether it is something good or bad. When He comes to me, am I prepared for Him to drag every wrong thing I have ever done into the light? That is exactly where He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean is where He will put His feet and stand, and wherever I think I am clean is where He will remove His feet and walk away. Repentance does not cause a sense of sin— it causes a sense of inexpressible unworthiness. When I repent, I realize that I am absolutely helpless, and I know that through and through I am not worthy even to carry His sandals. Have I repented like that, or do I have a lingering thought of possibly trying to defend my actions? The reason God cannot come into my life is that I am not at the point of complete repentance. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” John is not speaking here of the baptism of the Holy Spirit as an experience, but as a work performed by Jesus Christ. “He will baptize you….” The only experience that those who are baptized with the Holy Spirit are ever conscious of is the experience of sensing their absolute unworthiness. “I indeed” was this in the past, “but He” came and something miraculous happened. Get to the end of yourself where you can do nothing, but where He does everything. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition Bible in One Year: Psalms 110-112; 1 Corinthians 5

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM PREACHERS AND TEACHERS FACE

  • Joe McKeeverJoe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and…More
  • 2020Aug 18

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Terry Vine

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)

“Let’s see now. How shall I put this?”

That’s our problem.

Try this sometime. You have an image in mind of a person you have thought up. Now, find someone with some art ability and describe your creation to the point that they sketch him/her exactly as you envision them.

Good luck with that.

It’s almost impossible to illustrate someone else’s vision of a story.

And yet, this process goes on all the time. Here’s the way it works…

A friend contacts me. “Will you illustrate my book?” I hem and haw, give non-answers, such as: “Well, tell me what you have in mind,” or, “What exactly do you need?” or “When do you need it?” or “How many drawings will it be?” and look for ways—true confession—to get out of doing it.

Tackling such an assignment is guaranteed to age you prematurely, disappoint the other party, and leave everyone frustrated and exhausted.

The author and I were in the process of going back and forth with her descriptions and my attempts to capture them on paper, like a bad tennis match. It happens with practically every writer who asks someone to illustrate her book. She begins by promising this is going to be simple. ‘Just draw me a warrior holding a sword.’ Then, she looks at my sketch and wants him just a little taller. I make him taller.

Next, “Could you put a scowl on his face and not make him look so nice? Oh, and could we change his clothes? And put armor on him. Brown hair. Green eyes. And did I say he’s wearing a cape?”

Multiply that times the number of characters the writer wants drawn—and you see in a heartbeat the difficulty.

Sometimes when I’m sketching people at a public event, someone will say, “You could get a job working for the police.”

Nope. Not in a zillion years. I respond, “It’s hard enough drawing when I’m looking at you. But imagine when all you have is the memory of someone talking to you and trying to get that on paper. No thanks.”

I do admire those who can pull that off. I am not one of them.

Preachers and teachers face a similar challenge.

They have a mental image of some event, some truth, some lesson, some reality which they want to transfer and implant into the brains and hearts of the hearers.  To do this, they employ several tools…

1. The speakers use words.  Words are amazing things: sounds we make from a combination of breath and larynx and mouth, which we have agreed will mean something or other. After all, someone in the distant past decided that this grunt would stand for that thing, two grunts that other thing, and so forth. The creation of language was an amazing thing.

2. The speakers work hard to find the perfect words and to arrange them into easy-to-follow presentations, perhaps using stories or word-pictures. When the speaker says, “Let me tell you a story,” the hearers tend to perk up and give their undivided attention. If the story is well-chosen and its placement is ideal, he/she can achieve something amazing with those words.

3. The speakers count on the active participation of the hearers. Unless members of the congregation or audience decide to meet you halfway, this is not going to work. Pity the schoolteacher whose class meets just after lunch. Everyone, including her, would prefer to be taking a nap. Talk about an uphill job!

4. Those teaching and preaching God’s message count on an additional Helper: the Holy Spirit. Ideally, He prepares the hearts and minds of the hearers, anoints the words of the speaker, and then performs a kind of divine alchemy inside the listeners during the delivery and reception of the message. It’s pretty wonderful, and something pastors count on heavily. Many a preacher has found himself saying in a panic, moments before the worship service begins, “Help, Lord! If you’re not going to bless this today, I’m in big trouble!” Indeed he is.

The Lord God had the same problem, incidentally—how to convey His message to earthlings in an unforgettable, workable way

I’m certain you know what He did. He used a Word.

Here is how the Apostle John put it…

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God, and the Word was God…the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1John 1:14)

And again…

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life….what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you may have fellowship with us… (1 John 1:1,1 John 1:3).

God in Heaven—the Author of it all—put His message in a Person whom He called “The Word” and sent that One to earth so people could see and hear and touch, and believe.

Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

We get the Message, Lord.

There is a sense in which we earthlings are reproducing Jesus in this world. Or, to be more exact, the Holy Spirit is producing Christlike people in this world. The Apostle Paul said, “But we all…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We shrink from making such a statement, but there is a sense in which we ought to be able to say to people, “You want to see God? (or Jesus?) Look at me.” And also, “Look at him.” Or her.

That is actually the plan, in a manner of speaking.  (We must not press this metaphor too hard, because nothing the Spirit will do in you or me in this life will detract from the unique thing He has done in Jesus Christ. All our Christlikeness should simply point others to Jesus.)

It’s an odd thing. The more like Jesus Christ I become in this world, the more I become my authentic self, and less a clone of anyone or a copy or reproduction of anything.

Those who fear coming to Jesus because they don’t want to lose their uniqueness and become a clone of some Christian whom they dislike need not to worry. That is not going to happen.

He will make you into the person He had in mind from the beginning. And that’s a pretty wonderful thing, incidentally.

“Dear Lord, let Your divine Image be seen in this world in my life, through my words and deeds and mannerisms. May people believe in Jesus because of me, as far-fetched as that may seem. For Thy glory. Amen.”


Joe McKeever has been a disciple of Jesus Christ more than 65 years, been preaching the gospel more than 55 years, and has been writing and cartooning for Christian publications more than 45 years. He blogs at www.joemckeever.com.

Under the Big Top

NIGHT LIGHT FOR PARENTS

I want you to be wise about what is good. Romans 16:19

Josh was so excited. The day had finally arrived. After lunch, his father was taking him to the circus! Then the phone rang. As Josh listened to his father speak, his heart sank. Something about urgent business that required his father’s attention downtown. With tears in his eyes, Josh got up from the kitchen table and began walking slowly toward his room. Then he heard his father say, “No, I won’t be down. It will have to wait.” Almost in disbelief, Josh hurried back to the table and saw his mother smiling at his father. “The circus will come back, you know,” she said. “I know,” his father answered. “But childhood won’t.”

We do have choices in how we spend our days. Yes, there are consequences if we put off an assignment at work or postpone cleaning the house. But when the alternative is taking time for your son or daughter, what is the better choice? After all, when Jesus asked two fishermen named Peter and Andrew to “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17), did they respond with, “Not now, Jesus, we have important work to do”?

We encourage you to weigh your options carefully as you plan your schedule. Sometimes an afternoon under the big top is the best appointment of all.

Before you say good night…

Do you ever appear to value your work over the kids?

What is God saying to you about the amount of time you spend with your children?

How can you increase your time together as a family?

O Lord of time and eternity, You know very well how fleeting is the opportunity to encourage our children. Open our eyes so that we might cherish such moments and not let them slip away. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from Illustrations Unlimited, edited by James S. Hewett (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1988).