There is a Chinese proverb which says, “Talk doesn't cook rice.” In other words, actions speak louder than words. While our words have an impact, it is our actions which tell people who we really are.
This is especially true when we apologize and make commitments to do better. Talking about doing something different, but not changing our behaviour, communicates we don't really believe we need to change. It says we don't want to feel the condemnation, but we don't want to do the work either.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1 said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” Without loving actions to back up our words, they become noise. Words can be a clumsy way to express love, and while verbal affirmation of love is vital, it's hallow if love isn't proven through actions.
I would say a major cause, of not following our words with action, is that we're too quick to speak. We're at times quick to make apologies for actions we haven't seriously or fully considered yet.
The solution is not to be quicker and better with our words, but to be patient, thoughtful, and listening. It says in James 1:19a, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak.”
If we spend more time listening, we'll spend less time making statements we're not living out, we'll adjust our focus from selfishness to true interest and concern for others. When we do this, we'll view others more for who they are, rather than as extensions of ourselves. As a result, we can give apologies which are backed up by action and benefit the other person.
This week my challenge is, when you want to apply a temporary bandage of words, instead take some time alone to think and pray about what actions you can take to improve yourself. Once you've figured that out, don't share your plan with someone else, keep it to yourself and walk it out. Give fruit time to grow and speak for itself.
The Bible says you will know people by their “fruit” (Matthew 7:16). Fruit is an object, not an idea, when fruit grows, people will see it, we won't need to point it out.
Let's match actions with words and not be so quick to speak, so we can avoid falling short of our words.
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