If you would ask any of my former players to give you examples of my coaching philosophy, I am sure they would mention this phrase. I used it every day, probably more than once a day. Maybe, they heard it so much, they got sick of hearing it, but I'll guarantee you one thing, they remembered it. It actually would get to a point each season, where I wouldn't have to say it anymore, because the players would repeat the saying before it even got out of my mouth. Let me illustrate. If we had run a play several times and a certain player continued to miss his assignment, I might say (very gently and kindly, of course), "Son, do you have any idea of what you are supposed to do on this play?" The reply might go something like this. "Yes coach, I am supposed to… I know, I know, show you, don't tell you, right?" "You've got it, son!"
I think that most of us would agree that actions speak louder than words, wouldn't we? How often have the actions of a person, betrayed what they have said? Sometimes this plays out in a simple thing, like promising a friend to help them with a chore and then not showing up to do it. Have you ever done that? (Rhetorical question, you don't have to answer). This may not seem like a very important issue but what does it say about our character? It can be very easy to develop a habit of promising and never delivering.
The reason that I emphasized this to my players so much was because I believed it was such an important part of character development. Anybody can tell you what they will do, but it really means nothing unless they actually do it. The criminal justice system is filled with people who have said that they will not commit another crime and will seek help, but never do. My classes are filled with students who guarantee me that they will do everything they should and will pass the class, but are non-suit the next day. I can't tell you how many parent conferences I have been to and heard a parent say, "I will make sure my student is in class every day from now on," but within a week, they are truant again. It seems that there is an epidemic of integrity deficit when it comes to following through on commitment.
So often, when I am counseling with people, the reason a relationship is strained or broken, is because one or both people have not put actions to their words. For example, a person who tells their spouse that they love them, but then refuses to get help for their alcohol addiction. A parent, who assures their child how much they care about them, yet is always too busy to be involved in their life. How about a pastor, who preaches the gospel, but gets caught living a secret life of sexual sin? Let me ask you, do their words have any value or meaning? The old saying that actions speak louder than words is very true, don't you think?
Did you know that the Bible actually has a lot to say on this subject? Let's start with a parable from Jesus. "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' "'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went."Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. (Matt 21:28-31 NIV) Do you agree with their answer? Of course! You see, it wasn't what was said by the second son that got the job done, it was the actions of the first son.
Jesus was using this parable to rebuke the leaders of Israel, who talked a good game about loving God and being righteous, but would not repent of their sin. He also would rebuke them for putting burdens upon people which they could not carry and then not lift one finger to help them! All talk, no action. In fact Jesus exhorted us to not make boastful pledges to do things, but just let your 'yes be yes' and your 'no be no' (Mt 5:37). James reiterated this in Jas 5:12. We need to take this to heart.
The Bible makes it clear that we will be known by our fruit (works led by the Holy Spirit), not our words. You can read Mt 7:16-20 and be sure of that. James pulls no punches about this topic. James 1:22-24 "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."
The Apostle John is adamant that your actions much match your words when you speak of your relationship with Christ. Look at these verses:
1 John 1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
1 John 2:4-6 The man who says, "I know Him," but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God's love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.
1 John 3:6-7 No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.
1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
I could go on and on with scriptures, but you get the picture. What we do speaks louder than what we say. Now, I am not telling you that we should never say to a loved one, "I love you." We need to do that. But we need to back it up with action. I also do not want you to be discouraged because you have not always done what you have said you would do. We have all fallen short in that area. Let's not live in guilt but remember that John also said that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin. What I do hope, though, is that we would recognize the importance of our actions and strive in our lives, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to let them speak for themselves.
GAME PLAN: Ask the Lord to show you in prayer, where you might have fallen short in letting your actions match what you say. Ask forgiveness for this. Receive God's forgiveness and pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to help you in this area. Look for opportunities to serve the Lord and do it without telling anyone what you are going to do. Just do it! (Apologies to Nike, but they were not the first one to use this phrase)
God bless you as you follow Christ,