It seems as if we are living in the age of legal litigation. Now, there is a place for a justice system that allows differences to be resolved in a civil manner. Yet, there is something much better that has been lost in the recent years. I would call it integrity. When a persons word meant something. We should not be surprised that followers of Jesus are called to be people of their word.
I have been spending time each day thinking over Bible verses that I am memorizing. One that speaks to our need to be people of our word is found in 1 John 3:18. The Apostle John is known for his simple but profound communication. He writes, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Let’s look at this profound verse as those that live in a culture that feels it needs to scream to get its message across. Here we are reminded as followers of Jesus to be people of action. Now, our words are very important. Jesus reminds us to be clear and truthful when he said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:37) But your most powerful demonstration of character is by what you do. We all know people that are “all talk.” You learn very quickly that you cannot depend on these kind of persons. Now the admonition is for you not to be that person. The one that makes a commitment then backs out. The one that says one thing then does another. Listen, all of us struggle with this area of our lives, but we are reminded that our actions as Jesus’ followers will cut through the noise of a screaming culture.
If we are going to become people of our word, the kind that others trust, then we need to get some self-control over our tongue. The Bible reminds us that the poor use of our tongue does the most damage. The challenge is to take control of what we say. And this means that it will not be easy!
Jesus’ admonition above to let our “yes” be “yes” commands you to “Say what we mean and mean what we say.” It is easy to say things like “I’ll pray for you” and then never follow through. One of the struggles for me was to tell my wife I would be home at a certain time for dinner and then forget. I also would tell my kids we would do something and then not do it. I was communicating to my spouse and kids that I did not really mean what I said!
Second, we need to slow down and take a more balanced approach to life. I’m the kind of person that over-estimates what I can get done. The end result is that I would be late for everything. Now there are situations in life that need immediate attention but this does not apply to every situation. And for those that are focused and find it hard to break away from a task, let me ask you, is it really more important than the person that is waiting for you?
Third, get practical by creating systems to help keep you on track. I have found that the reminders on my phone have been very effective when I listen to them. I also have found that giving myself more time has been helpful. I will now leave earlier for an appointment. I have also found it helpful not to start a new task if I will not have time to finish it. Probably the most significant help has been to take care of the request immediately. It could be the need to take out the garbage, or order a school book online for one of my kids, or praying with someone that has just shared a need. I will put my arm on their shoulder and pray right there.
At the end of the day, it is our character that reveals Jesus to others. And one of the most significant areas of our lives to do this is by speaking truthfully and keeping our commitments with others. I have noticed that not only do I act with integrity but it seems like I become more effective in getting things done. Our actions will speak through all the noise of the culture around us to reveal Jesus to others.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson