I am sure that many of us at some point have been told to “Do as a I say, not as I do!” We may have even used that with our own children. The underlying positive aspect to that statement is to listen to those authorities in our lives. The negative aspect is that the statement undermines trust. This is why actions matter.
Let me state the obvious, your trust in others deteriorates when they repeatedly fail to keep their word. The conclusion that you come to is that that person does not mean what they say. I was guilty of this as a young father. I was, at that time, an over achiever in the sense that I was trying to squeeze more into life than could reasonably fit. The end result was, as a dad, I was over committing and under delivering. I was undermining the trust of those around me in my life, especially my spouse and children. Now, the areas that I was doing this do not seem significant, but they do communicate that my words mean little to nothing. One example, I would not be on time. I think we are all guilty of this. Yet, look at it from this perspective. I could tell my kids I would be home at 5 and we would do something. Yet, then I got distracted in my situation with ministry, I undermined trust by not keeping my word. My inaction is a demonstration of a lack of integrity. Now, I am not talking about those exceptions in life when something intervenes. I am speaking of poor time management and not making these commitments a priority.
It is important for followers of Jesus to be mindful of how important our words are when backed up with action! I am reminded of John’s words to Jesus’ followers. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) The apostle’s admonition is for Jesus’ followers to be people of action. Jesus’ brother, James, was correct in his warning to be careful with our words. I am sure that most of us have been guilty of using our words as a cover. We may tell someone that we will, “Pray for them but then forget.” (A solution is to pray for the individual right then.) We may tell people what they want to hear, rather than speaking the truth in love (A solution would be to be gently honest). Our most blatant offenses are we do not keep our word. It is these times that others trust in us takes a huge hit. I can be being on time (A solution is to leave margin in your schedule), or keeping our commitments (A solution is to use a calendar with reminders). Why are my actions so important? Because it is how God’s love is communicated to others.
Let me encourage you to take a few minutes to examine your lives from the perspective of others in your life. Would they be able to say that you are a person they can count on? Your integrity will bear fruit for God and in your own relationships because you are a person that shows love through your actions and in truth.
Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:34–35)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson