It hurts when someone gives seemingly heartfelt promises that prove to be the end in and of themselves. Part of us expects a high moral concept that only truth will be spoken but, when time doesn’t bring supporting actions, we find the truth to be elsewhere.
But there are warnings for both sides of the table here: for the one who has a tendency to take people at their word and the one who could use a lesson on walking one’s talk. We are all guilty, whether we realize it or not.
Words are powerful but limited. They need actions to back them up in many areas of life, or they won’t hold the weight they claim to be capable of carrying. Words need actions…
If an officer pulls you over for speeding, he shouldn’t let you go if you can recite the entire DMV manual. In other words, he shouldn’t let you go because you know what’s right. You need to do what’s right.
Scores of verses speak to the same concept. A Christian who professes faith and love of Jesus but lives however they see fit is not a genuine believer (John 14:15). Like how a wife obeys her husband out of love for him, the Christian seeks to do as God asks.
“When you love a person deeply, you want to serve them and earn their regard.”-David Brooks, The Road to Character
Fundamentally, the child who agrees to a parent’s instruction to not eat a cookie will walk out obedience in not eating a cookie. Or the young adult who is asked to come straight home after an event will exercise obedience regardless of accountability or witnesses.
The same applies to one who is asking God to bring change to their circumstances. Remember the mysterious balance between God’s will and man’s free will. Do not ask God to guide your footsteps if you’re not willing to move your feet.
…in making out one’s character
Beware of the one who verbally confirms the embodiment of everything you want in a spouse. Beware of the one who claims a night and day difference to a nefarious past they once led, especially when there is something on the table they want.
It takes a while to see who a person truly is, for one to become aware of another’s patterns versus episodes, but time always tells. Love will believe the best, but wisdom will wait for three or more years for a new past to settle into place (if any).
“You’re going to come across people in your life who will say all the right words at all the right times. But in the end, it’s always their actions you should judge them by. It’s actions, not words, that matter.”-Nicholas Sparks
What do they do in their free time? Who are their friends? What do they watch/read/listen to? Pay attention to their reputation. How do they treat their parents? How do their siblings feel about them? A person’s actions will tell you everything you need to know.
Before any hard-to-reverse decisions are made, let enough time pass (minimally a year) so actions can back up whatever words may be expressed. There is a clear message in how someone treats people if you have the ears to listen.
A common retort to love is that it is not an emotion but a choice. You decisively walk in or out of love and chose whether or not to love when you are struggling to like someone. But love is also not a noun to be defined but a verb to be acted upon.
I was convicted of this when I realized I spend significant portions of my conversations with friends and acquaintances gushing about my family members: their accomplishments, character, and whatever laughter-inducing memory we have made of late.
To the outside observer, it is clear I love my family very much, but all my sister knew was me holed up in my room feverishly attending to my seemingly never-ending to-do list. She did not feel the love I fervently expressed to non-family members.
So I started making conscious decisions to face her completely and unobscured when she came into my room. I noted her love language and thought about ways I could express affection how she receives it best (and then acted on those notions).
We shouldn’t have to tell someone we love them (though that is nice), they should be able to tell by the way we treat them. Love is sacrifice and every day holds an opportunity to die to ourselves for the sake of another, all we need to do is act.
A lot of people don’t understand what real romance is. Anyone can buy flowers, candy, and jewelry. There’s no love in that. The truly romantic things in life are those little things you do every day to show you care and that you’re thinking of them. It’s going out of your way to make them happy. The way you hold her hand when you know she’s scared, or you save the last piece of cake for him. It’s dedicating her favorite song to her and letting her eat your fries, telling her she’s beautiful even when she’s in her sweats with her hair in a ponytail and no makeup. It’s putting your favorite show on pause so she can tell you about her day and laughing at his jokes, even the really lame ones. It’s dancing in the kitchen or the rain. Romance isn’t about buying, it’s about giving. True romance is in gestures.
The world is changed by your example, not your opinion. When Christians are all too often not free to express their beliefs, this evermore proves to be true. The Christian testimony is often best seen through how they walk throughout the week versus their Sunday best.
In the broader scheme of things, this concept still holds water. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. To be kind is more important than to be right.
“Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.”-Unknown
For the Christian, we should live and speak in such a way that those who know us but don’t know God will come to know God because they know us.
You know someone is being fake when what they say is not the same as how they act. Consistency means you’re the real deal. People who go after the name of Jesus need to be consistent because it is then that we are better able to glorify Christ.
In essence, we should act instead of merely talk, show instead of simply say, and prove instead of just promise. It’s actions, not words, that matter.
…in being kind
A community does not hold one as a kind person because they all woke up one day and thought that would be a nice thing to do. No, someone gains the reputation of being kind by treating others with compassion.
Have eyes that are quick to spot the lonely and a heart that is quick to reach out to them. Build someone up. Put their insecurities to sleep. Remove someone’s ‘loner’ status. Wait on the last one to leave class. Say thank you for everything. Greet those you pass in the hallway. Act on your kind thoughts about someone.
There have been several instances where I have told a certain beautiful person what I love about another beautiful person and each time their response was simple yet revolutionary: “Do they know that? Have you told them that?”
“When you see something beautiful in someone, tell them. It may take a second to say, but for them it could last a lifetime.”-Vis, The Kind Journal
It is not enough to merely say kind things. We must act on them to prove they’re true. Sometimes the action may not look like much (like just passing on kind words), but it’s acting on the thought that makes a world of difference.