“Do what I say, not what I do.” Does setting an example work this way?
A father and his young son were driving down the road one day when the car they were following suddenly stopped. The dad slammed on the brakes causing everything the boy was holding to fly back in his face. Amid the French fries in his lap and drink running down his face and shirt, the young boy said a word no one his age should ever say. Dad asked, “Where did you hear that?” “I’ve been watching you,” the boy replied. The lyrics continue, “I’ve been watching you, dad. Isn’t that cool?”
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are being watched. Our attitude is a pattern for others. Saying, “do what I say, not what I do,” will not work. We are being watched, so it is essential we model the right example in our actions and speech.
Look closely at what is said in Philippians 4:9. Basically, “use my example as an illustration for how to live life.” For most anyone, a statement like this would be a mouth full. Paul, however, can get away with it. His actions show us the type of attitude he desires for us to possess.
Scan the scenes of his life, and you will discover Paul experienced some adversity. Scenes include imprisonment, stoning, surviving a shipwreck, and living in a dungeon. His actions in each scene testify loudly of his faith. Guards and men on the ship became believers because of his actions. Take just a moment and evaluate your actions. What do they say?
We are also impacting others by what we say. I recently watched a video from Life without Limbs ministries. Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs. When people looked at Nick, they said, “He’ll never be able to do this.” Or, “He’ll never be able to do that.” Some people even avoided Nick because he was different than they were. People were sending Nick a negative message.
Nick was receiving so much negative feedback that he became overwhelmed. He said he began to wonder if anyone even loved him. He later discovered Jesus had a few words to say about this like “I love you. I love you enough that I died for you.”
During his earthly ministry, Jesus talked to all kinds of lost people. He talked to beggars, lepers, prostitutes, and the list goes on, but he always had the same approach. He always did it in a compassionate, sensitive, positive way. Take a moment and evaluate your speech. What are your words saying?
People are impacted by what we do and what we say.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In other words, do everything in a way that brings glory and honor to God so others can learn from you.
A good example of someone who has a peaceful, positive attitude is Job. Let me tell you Job’s story. Scripture tells us Job was a man of enormous wealth; he had a large amount of livestock and several servants. Job was also a man who was holy and respected God. There was a time in Job’s life, though, when it looked very bad. He was subjected to two tests of his faith.
The first test was a day in which Job was visited by a series of messengers. The first messenger told Job a great deal of his livestock had been stolen, and several his servants had been killed. While he was still speaking, a second messenger came in and said the rest of Job’s livestock had been stolen, and the rest of his servants had been killed. While this man was still speaking, yet a third messenger came and informed Job his sons and daughters were killed in a mighty wind. Job responded to this test by saying the Lord gives and takes away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
During his second test, Job was infected with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. This would be like having cold sores all over your body. During all his trouble, Job took a positive outlook. He said, “I know my redeemer lives, and someday I will see him.”
That is a powerful statement from Job, because he knew that things on earth may not get any better for him. They might even get worse, but Job knew at the end, he would be victorious because his redeemer lives. Guess what! Our redeemer lives too. If you have been obedient to Jesus Christ, and have accepted the grace that he offers, you are going to be victorious just like Job. As Christians, we share in the victory that Christ achieved through his death and resurrection. The song title puts it well when it says there is victory in Jesus.
Do your actions or speech need to change? Act by saying something positive to someone this week. Share how it goes in the comments below.