Monday, November 14, 2011

Doers and Talkers

"Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words."

The above quote is typically attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. Its sister phrase could be "actions speak louder than words." We all know people who talk the talk, but won't walk the walk. Rick Perry has made his most recent campaign commercial about this, saying that he's doer, not a talker. (Probably in light of some of his recent verbal flubs).

Actions matter. Scripture seems to back this up in numerous places:

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me (Mark 7:6-7a)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)

Then again, it seems that words also matter a great deal to God:

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:2-6 ESV)

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.... Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:25, 29)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

Doing and talking are not mutually exclusive. Even a brief perusal of the gospel accounts reveals that Jesus seemed to model both quite well. Actions and words together speak far louder than inaction and apathy and hypocrisy. Our actions and words together reveal our hearts. When our hearts are transformed by the Gospel of Jesus, it redeems, influences, and inspires our speech and our actions. I don't want to be just a talker or a doer. I want to be a talking doer...or a doing talker...or a dotalker. I want to do stuff that matters in people's lives, and say words with meaning and conviction.

Maybe a better quote would be "preach the Gospel at all times...period."

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