There’s a saying I like and it goes like this: “Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” In other words, “Actions speak louder than words.”
Do you find that to be true?
How do you respond when you hear someone say, “I love you”, but their actions seem to contradict their words? How does it make you feel? How much can you trust someone who says one thing but does another?
I remember a time in my life, about 20 years ago. Because of my self-indulgent behavior, wandering eyes, lustful heart and uncontrolled thoughts, I brought hellish confusion and destruction into my family and those who were connected with my life. My family was blown apart! My wife and I split up and, for a while, it seemed as though there was no hope of reconciliation. My son didn’t know what to think, my wife couldn’t think, and I acted like a mad man!
I resigned from the church my wife and I had planted 10 years prior. But I was so out of control, it didn’t matter. I was so focused on feeding the cravings of my flesh, no one knew me. I remember our marriage counselor saying to me one day, “Jan, with your attitude, you’re headed back to the streets; back to the gutter.” For an hour or two that statement bothered me. But it didn’t take long until I was trying to satisfy the lusts within that were screaming for attention.
After a few months, lots of people praying, several counseling sessions, heated discussions, and saying, “I’m sorry” countless times, we began the process of rebuilding. Of course, our marriage was just part of the picture that needed rebuilt. Our individual lives had been blown apart because the one thing that held us together had been violated, over and over.
Regardless of how many times I said I was sorry (and meant it!), my words could not erase what had happened. My words alone could not make the healing and restoration process any shorter.
What a long process! So many hurts to heal, tears to dry, and bridges to rebuild. I soon discovered it was a lot harder rebuilding trust than building it initially. Just like building a house, it’s easier to build a new house than to rebuild an old one. With a new house there isn’t any old debris to clean up first. You can begin building right away, once the lot is prepared. But with a rebuild, all the old has to be removed before anything else can be done. When trust has been violated, part of what was built is demolished and lies on the ground in a heap. That heap has to be dealt with first.
So rebuilding can only begin with an action, not a word, that supports the building of trust, a trust relationship. Such as accountability, tenderness, and listening to the pain and hurts of the one violated. Standing over someone with your hands on your hips, shouting, “I said I’m sorry; why don’t you believe me?” doesn’t speed up the process. It only lengthens it.
I went to see a counselor quite a bit during those weeks and months of the restoration process. God used him to help me see who I really was, not who I thought I was, or was trying to be. One day, after I had been seeing him for almost a year, my wife and I planned a trip to see her family. It was to be the first trip back home since I had brought such havoc into our lives. Of course, I was very apprehensive about seeing her parents and siblings. I was truly sorry for what I had done, was working very hard to rebuild and regain what I had thrown away; and I wanted my in-laws to know how much I had changed.
A day or two before we left on our trip I had a session with my counselor. I told him of our planned trip and mentioned my apprehension. As he listened to me explain how I really wanted people to know I was a new guy, that I’d changed and would never treat my wife in such a way ever again, he calmly leaned forward and made a statement that I’ve kept with me ever since.
He said, “Jan, you don’t have to say a word. As a matter of fact, it would be better if you kept quiet about how you’ve changed. Just show them. They won’t believe your words, but eventually they will believe your actions if you are consistent.”
He was definitely right. Actions speak louder than words!
It was several years after the bomb exploded in my life, after we began the process of rebuilding, that my wife said something to me that I’ll never forget. She told me that she trusted me more than she ever had! That was such a powerful word to me. It was a word that had been proven by more than mere words, but by actions.
By the way, we just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary! Hallelujah!
Whether you are trying to convey your love for someone, your care and compassion; or maybe you’re trying to get your friends or family to believe God loves them; let’s face it. Words can help at times. But at other times, especially when people have been hurt, not by God, but by His people, words will only get in the way.
God didn’t sit on His throne in Heaven and give us a shout, “I LOVE YOU!” He didn’t just send a prophet or an angel to earth with a coded message declaring His love for mankind. No, the scriptures reveal “that God SHOWED His love for us – while we were still sinners (completely at odds with Him and His Holiness).” Yes, God’s walk talks, and His talk talks, but His walk talks louder than His talk talks!
That’s how we know He really loves us. Because He SHOWED us. His actions supported His Words.
They still do. He still does. Do you? Will you?