OceanSide church of Christ
|Previous||Return to Articles||Next|
A DISCONNECTION BETWEEN WORDS AND ACTIONS
Victor M. Eskew
One of the important aspects of the Christian life is harmony. There must be harmony between the words that we speak and the life that we live. Oftentimes, however, there seems to be a disconnection between the two. We say the right things, but we have a difficult time living them out in our lives.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day had this difficulty. They would teach certain things to others, but they would not comply with their own teachings. Jesus warned the multitude and His disciples about them in Matthew 23:1-3. “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works: for they say, and do not. The lives of the Pharisees were disconnected from their teachings. They could not say: “Do as I say and do as I do.” Why? Because the two did not harmonize.
It seems like this was a problem for many Jews in the first century. They had the law. They taught the law, but their lives did not correspond therewith. Paul noted this in the second chapter of Romans. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? Thou that preaches a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? Thou that abhorest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?” (Rom. 2:21-23). It is easy for us to think harshly of the Jews and to criticize them, but aren’t we like them at times. We have the truth. We preach the truth. But, there are times when our lives do not harmonize with the truth we proclaim.
In our song service on Sunday morning, we sing many beautiful hymns of praise to God. However, these words are more than just praises to the Godhead. In our songs, we are teaching and admonishing one another (Col. 3:16). If we are teaching, shouldn’t our lives match the words that we are singing? There is a wonderful song that we sing entitled: “A Soul-Winner for Jesus” (#312). It begins with these words: “I want to be a soul-winner for Jesus every day…” The question, however, is: “Are we?” Are we soul-winners for Jesus every day? It is easy to sing the words, but it is difficult to manifest the words in our lives. We sing, but we do not do. There is a disconnection between the words and actions.
This writer attended a funeral for a member of the body of Christ on one occasion. The preacher who conducted the service did a good job in honoring the one who passed away. When he came to the end of his lesson, he exhorted his hearers, saying: “If you are at odds with one another, please do all you can to make things right with one another.” He encouraged them to go and talk to each other and to ask and offer forgiveness of one another. It was an interesting portion of the lesson because this minister had been part of a church split in times past. He was still estranged from his brothers and sisters in Christ. There seemed to be a disconnection between his words to his audience that day and the practice of those words in his life. Had he been doing all he could to heal the division that existed between him and his brethren such would not have been the case.
There is also a disconnection between words and actions after coming off some emotional highs in our spiritual lives. Young people often attend an energized youth rally and come home, saying: “I have been changed forever.” Members of the church will come back from mission trips, also saying: “We have been changed forever.” Yet, in a matter of a few days and weeks both groups settle back into their regular routines and behaviors. Very little is changed forever.
The disconnection that exists between our words and actions can be explained in many ways. Spoken words are often sincere and sincerity is prized highly in our society. Sincerity seems to replace action. Spoken words are often heard by many. Since we all like to believe the best in people, we accept their words without really looking at their actions. Spoken words sound forth good intentions. We all know that actions usually begin with ideas and words. Thus, we assume there will be follow through after the words are spoken. In addition to these things, we have also grown accustomed to saying things with no follow through. Thus, saying and doing not has become a habit. Sadly, we fail to see this as a character flaw.
Jesus was a man of many, many words. We have many of His teachings in the New Testament. Yet, Jesus was not a man whose actions were disconnected from His words. His life manifested the words that He spoke. When Luke summarized his first treatise about the life of Christ, he said that it contained “all that Jesus began both to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). Notice the order of the words, “do and teach.” Do comes before teach. Jesus was a doer. He was one who could say: “Do as I do,” in addition to, “do as I teach.” Several years ago, the question: “What would Jesus do (WWJD)?” was popular. In the matter of harmony between words and actions, Jesus manifested perfect harmony. We are exhorted to walk in His steps and do as He did (I John 2:6).
My friends, there is nothing wrong with making bold proclamations and wonderful promises. There is nothing wrong with teaching the precious word of God to others. However, we need to do all we can do to harmonize our words with our actions. All of our words are recorded in the mind of an all-knowing God. He expects us to follow through on our words. When we truly understand this, we may give more attention to the words of the preacher found in Ecclesiastes 5:2. He writes: “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon the earth: therefore let thy words be few.” We will also have a better understanding of the words of James recorded in James 3:1. “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”