I’ve just seen a meme which irritates me somewhat. It says:
“A Christian is what he lives, not what he preaches”.
This is a very close relative of the saying attributed to Francis of Assisi, “preach the Gospel, use words if necessary” (though there is no evidence he actually said it).
What irritates me is that it actually does the opposite of what it intends. Rather than increasing our witness, it changes it, it takes the heart out of it.
I think I get the real intent – which is “Let your actions match your words.” Sadly however, it plays to the attitude many have, which is they want the Christian in their midst to “Love me. Be kind to me. But don’t spew your intolerant rhetoric at me – keep the words of the message of the Gospel to yourself.”
The world wants our love.
They want our acts of kindness.
They want our generosity.
They desire our patience, tolerance, and good works.
They do not want the truth.
They do not want their wrong actions and attitudes to be called out.
They do not want to be challenged to think about their eternal destiny.
They do not want to come to a place to make a choice (not realizing their inaction is itself a choice).
And they certainly do not want to hear the “s” word (=sin).
But there is far more to love than simply being good to someone. And proclaiming the Gospel requires far more than doing good deeds.
If that were true – Jesus could’ve easily just walked the earth healing people, driving out demons, handing out food, performing miracles, comforting the hurting. Loving with His actions.
But did He do only that?
He spoke. He challenged people. He called out sin. He forgave. He made people think. He questioned people. He told stories. He quoted Scripture.
He used WORDS.
So, preach the Gospel….and do it USING WORDS…but make sure your words are backed up and not contradicted by your actions.