If a certain concept keeps showing up in your life over a short duration of time, take note my friends, it could be something that is in your benefit to take careful note of. One of those things that’s been showing up for me has been the notion of leading thru action, and not just words.
John Stange, the pastor of my home church at Core Creek Community Church, gave an excellent sermon this Sunday that also happened to touch on this concept. More specifically when it comes to being generous with our blessings as outlined in 2 Corinthians 9.
It was here that Paul was writing to the early church at Corinth about how they ought to give joyfully, as that action displays evidence of genuine faith. At the time, Paul had talked them up to the church at Jerusalem, which had been undergoing severe hardship and famine, which Paul felt called to organize a relief offering there. He wanted to demonstrate that there was a difference between saying you believe in Jesus Christ and actually living out that belief.
In other words…
Leading by our actions speak louder than our words.
How many times do celebrities at award shows or athletes in the midst of an accomplishment throw their hands up to the sky and give praise to God, yet demonstrate the complete opposite in their showmanship on and off the center stage?
I was reminded of that very concept this past week while talking with another believer that runs in my same social circle. She was quite surprised to hear that one individual (who I also knew to be a Christian) acted quite the opposite in their day to day actions. It got me thinking that if somebody who didn’t know me looked at my actions, would they too be surprised to discover that I was in fact who I claim to be?
If somebody were to accuse you of being Christian, would they have enough evidence to convict you?
Leading by action comes with a cost, but also a reward.
There was a reason the disciples in the early world were martyred. They represented a great threat to the status quo and the enemy’s plan to keep Christ out of the conversation. When times get tough in my own life that affect my own comfort and convenience, I try to remind myself that if I didn’t represent a threat to Satan’s agenda, he wouldn’t care enough to try and mess it up. Try to keep the eternal perspective in mind next time you feel like everything you do in the name of Christ is getting thwarted at every turn.
God knows your struggles and keeps a careful watch on the situation, whether it seems like He’s absent in the moment. Not even Job knew what was going on behind the scenes, yet he continued to trust God in the dark. And God took note of it and rewarded him for his faithfulness.
One of my favorite responses from Job to his wife in the midst of his suffering…
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
Leading by action is not just fueled by a feeling.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Christian say they felt tired and drained right before going to church or small group study, I’d probably be rich. Excuses as to why we shouldn’t are more common than reasons why we should. The enemy wants to stop us from uniting with other believers and spreading the Gospel, so it should come as no surprise! In fact, before I began writing this post, I thought of a hundred other things I could’ve been doing instead. But I knew that this was important and it had been a while since my last post, so here I am.
If we relied on our feelings to lead us to Christ, we’d never get there. We are born to resist God. It’s not in our natural ability or feeling to pursue Him. Choosing God is a choice we are given and must practice daily if we are ever to get in the healthy habit of it.
I’ve known one person to have drove their car completely around as they were a mere mile from the church because they suddenly got ill. Sure, there are times when the human body goes thru an unpleasant crisis situation, but for what it’s worth, I have not seen this individual at church in over a month right now. I might have to spiritually check up on them soon actually now that I think about it…
Leading by action is not an easy thing when we are living comfortably.
Have you ever though maybe comfort is just an illusion brought on by the materialistic world? As Jesus said, we are to be in this world but not of it…
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
A perfect example of this can be found in who Jesus spent most of His earthly ministry with. He could’ve hung out with the wealthy and the elite, who might have put Him up in “five-star rooms” for His own comfort. But instead He hung out with the liars, the lame, the criminals and the cheats.
He could’ve selected a more wise group of disciples to join Him instead of the bumbling bunch that made daily blunders and mistakes. He even warned them of the cost of following Him—it would be anything but comfortable, and He didn’t want those to try and make it comfortable either.
When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
Those that have it all made (or at least think they do) don’t need Jesus. It’s those that desire Him that He chooses to spend the most time with, even if they are far from perfect. Look at who God uses in the Bible over and over again to achieve His plans. It’s a relief to know that He still loves us imperfect people as we are made perfect in Christ, holy and blameless. (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22)
Jesus could’ve omitted going thru the torture and agony of being crucified for people who would continue to ignore Him for generations to come. It was anything but comfortable and convenient for the Son of God to come down from the high Heavens and join us on our own level. How crazy and cool is that? No other religion can even conceive of this.
Leading by action has an impact worth more than words.
Sometimes it’s difficult to realize that the things God blesses us with may not necessarily be for us, but rather to bless others with. However, that generosity should come naturally as God calls you to do, not by force or nagging.
This is something Paul was also trying to convey in 2 Corinthians 9. God loves a cheerful giver…
2 Corinthians 9:7
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Yet it doesn’t just have to be giving with money or objects. Be generous in whatever the Lord leads you to do and whatever sphere He places you in. It could be with your hands, your time or just being there for somebody else who needs an ear to listen, for example.
Leading by action is more effective than by just words.
One of my fellow believing sisters called me out on this when I chose to use a profane laden soundtrack to highlight this sweet video I did showcasing one of our ski / snowboarding trips. At the time, I thought the music was absolutely perfect for hitting the right beats and the timing of the clips and such. But then after putting it out there to a larger audience of our friends, I began to realize I made a terrible mistake.
How was I to call myself a true follower of Christ when I was choosing to represent myself thru actions quite to the contrary?
So please be careful my friends—someone is always watching your actions. And rightfully so. Just take Acts 7 for example.
When Stephen professed his faith in Christ and refused to back down, they stoned him to death. And as they were stoning him, Stephen professed his belief in Jesus one last time and even asked for his murderers’ forgiveness (a clear echo of what Jesus did when He was being crucified). And who was in the crowd at that moment watching this take place? We are told it was a young man named Saul, who would later be transformed from Christian persecutor to Christian advocate—the man we now know as Paul.
Funny how God has a way of taking the unlikely candidates in human history and doing the most impactful things with them. After all, it is actions that speak the loudest.