Communication is often not accomplished with what we say. A picture is worth 1,000 words. What we see overrides what we hear. One of my father’s favorite statements is, “I’m sorry. I’m too busy paying attention to what you’re doing to listen to what you have to say.” There’s far too much truth to this than we’ll often admit.
If you consider those you’re most influenced by you’ll see that it’s not the words that convict you, but their actions. Martin Luther King Jr., had some amazing quotes, but it was the fact he marched with his people and put himself in harms way to stand for what he believed in that separated him from everyone else. He paid the ultimate price for it. Lance Armstrong had some inspiring quotes in his speeches, but the moment we discovered he’d been using performance-enhancing drugs his credibility went down the toilet. It matters less what you say, and more what you do.
Your words are a house of cards. They stand only as long as the wind ceases. Your actions, however, are the foundation upon which your character is built. Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica lifting them up for their faith displayed through their actions. “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia,” – 1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (New International Version). It wasn’t the words of the church that spread, but news of their actions and how they stood firm in their faith despite severe persecution – even threats of death. You don’t have to be part of an underground evangelical church to have this apply to your life. John wrote, "Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth" - 1 John 3:18. Wouldn't our relationships be so much better if we actually applied this?
How are your actions backing up your words? Or do they? Do people listen to your words and often find themselves disappointed when you don't follow through? Are you someone who frequently cancels appointments or coffee dates? Do you tell your boss one thing, only to rush off and try to do what you said you already did, even, blow it off entirely? Can people count on you or do you have a reputation for being full of a lot of talk and not a lot of walk? Do people count on your because of what you model, or do they know they can’t count on you because the pattern of your actions say something different?
We live in a society where often our words are full of little more than hot air. We speak without thinking. We leap to our own defense claiming we’re “offended” but do so more out of a desperate need for attention than for an actual legitimate cause. We speak needing to be heard, but have nothing to say. The things we stand on, where we spend our time, and how we spend our money, however, speak volumes. Where is your money going? “Where your money is, there your heart will be also,” (Matthew 6:21). How about your time and energy? That shows what truly matters to you.
What are your actions saying?