One of the USA’s most beloved Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, is credited for coining this version of the famous phrase “Actions speak louder than words” in 1856. Now the phrase has actually existed in one form or another as far back as 1628. The meaning of the phrase is profound – it is through a person’s actions that others can see that person’s character. What a person says is important, but how the person acts is what actually speaks volumes. Through your actions you demonstrate to others a more complete representation of your true self – your intentions, your feelings, your ideas, your moral compass. You can say whatever it is that you want to say, but what reveals your true character is how you act.
I knew a person that said all sorts of things, and I liked what I heard. I believed what they said, and I trusted them. They were fun to be around, they used to make me laugh. So much so, that I dismissed the warning signals that came to me. They were going to go places, do great things, and have a prestigious career. At first, it was little things such as not doing what they said that they were going to do – “I’ll do it tomorrow,” only tomorrow never seemed to come. They would indulge themselves and not think about what they were doing, and when they were done indulging with what they had, they wanted what you had so that they could further indulge themselves. The told lies, big lies, little lies – they lied about things that really didn’t matter, but the lies came daily, and it became obvious to others that this person lied on a frequent basis. Therefore, many people understood that what this person said could not be trusted. They would attempt to manipulate situations in an effort to get whatever it was that they wanted, and if that didn’t work they would lash out at others. They married and had a Christian spouse, and once they married, they seemed to check out of pretty much most of the responsibility for their home or even much of the marriage. They wanted to model the lifestyle of free and easy college kid, who went out and partied, instead of facing the responsibilities of an adult and a spouse. They cheated on their spouse, emotionally and physically, online and in person. They frequently exhibited anger with explosions of what appeared to be major temper tantrums, and as the years went by the explosions became frequent, even several times daily. They knew what they were doing was damaging their marriage, yet they seemed powerless to stop themselves – I think it was perhaps that they were unwilling to stop themselves. Their actions tore their spouse up, and the stress on their spouse was enormous, which in turn put immense stress on the entire marriage. Despite their spouse’s determination to make the marriage work, eventually their marriage crumbled, and they divorced. It was sad for everyone to see and devastating for those who were involved. Here’s the crux – this person was a Christian, but modeled a lifestyle that was fairly opposite of what they were taught in their church and home.
The Bible tells us that our witness is important. One of the most important things that Paul tells us in the New Testament is that we are to put off our old selves, and that we are to put on Christ. Not because we think that we are better, but when we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are naturally drawn to Christ. We grow to know Jesus, and we emulate Him. We model Jesus out of devotion to Him. We experience love, and life in a whole new perspective. And, we want others to feel the love and experience the incredible relationship that we have with God. However, we cannot draw others into God’s light by behaving in our former manner, or living a life that models the world and it’s morality. To do so will quench the Holy Spirit – that little voice of God inside of us that guides us to do and think the right things. Our witness is discredited, we’re labeled a hypocrite, and more importantly we actually damage the credibility of Jesus and Christianity as a whole.
So, it’s an awesome privilege to be in a relationship with Jesus, and with it comes some very important responsibilities. We should take those responsibilities seriously. We need to strive everyday, every moment, to model Christ to others, to let God mold us into a positive representation of Jesus. To do that requires learning and staying in God’s Word, to be in constant contact with God through prayer, and to surround ourselves with godly friends and mentors. You simply cannot be an effective Christian without Christ!
Ephesians 4:20-24, ESV – “But that is not the way you learned Christ! – assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”