Social scientists tell us we human beings speak, on average, about 16,000 words a day. (Myth buster – Sorry, guys, most recent studies show men and women speak about the same number of words per day on average!) Wow! That’s a lot of words! Clearly, verbal communication is an essential part of life. Talking to one another is the primary means by which we share our thoughts and feelings, interpret what we hear, and explain the world around us. For example, when I asked my wife to marry me, she said yes. We set a date and got married (I’m sure glad she said yes! I know what you’re thinking and, yes, by the grace of God, she’s glad too!) Amazingly, those who are hearing impaired “speak” by learning to convert words to hand symbols. My mom was trained to “sign” or “talk with her hands” to speak with my grandparents who were deaf. Those who are voice-impaired now can speak through digital technology which converts words they type into a keyboard into audible words. In today’s world we communicate through a variety of visual, verbal and non-verbal ways.
But talking is not the only way we speak to one another. You know the old adage, “It’s not your words alone but your actions that truly count” or “Your actions speak so loudly I can’t hear a word your saying.” As Christians our words and our ways are essential to our witness for Christ. I would argue that our ways are often more important than our words. Why? Because our ways validate our words. The old phrase parents sometimes use, “Do as I say…not as I do,” invalidates their words. They don’t hold water. They scream out…I’m exempt from this but you’re not…hypocrisy destroys our words. When I was 7 years old my dad said something I never forgot. He said “Do the right thing and let the rest take care of itself.” For us as believers how much more does applying Christ’s words to our hearts and lives say to others about who He is as we represent Him on this planet! And conversely, when we speak about Him and don’t live like Him, that communicates something to the world around us too!
Sadly, the truth is our witness is damaged by words that don’t line up with biblical faith. Presented below is a biblical self-test to help evaluate what your life may be communicating to those around you. Like my mom “talking with her hands,” our actions convey specific messages. It’s really important to assess periodically what your actions are saying to those around you. As Spirit-born believers we need to constantly strive, by the power of the Spirit, to ensure our words and our ways honor Christ and validate our witness for Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Below is a penetrating biblical self-test to help you evaluate what your life may be saying to those around you. Scripture calls us to “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22a).
1. Talk. vs. Walk Test: But some will say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18)
– Do you say you trust Christ during a trial but grumble about your circumstance?
– Do you tell your children by your behavior that obeying the laws of the land is optional?
– Husbands, do you proclaim that Christ is first in your life but invest more time and energy into your hobbies, sports, job, or kids at the expense of your wife’s spiritual well-being or that of your marriage and family?
2. Hypocrisy Test: If brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and be filled,” but you don’t give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? (James 2:15-16)
– Are you constantly speaking words of compassion without privately doing acts of compassion?
3. Love Test: You have heard that it was said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? (Matthew 5:43-46)
– Do you, like the false religious leaders Jesus is speaking to in this passage, only love other believers or those who you like? Do you bitterly criticize those who treat you harshly, are unjust, or use you for selfish gain?
– Do you pray for them and those of other faiths to come to know Christ? Do you try to befriend them or avoid them? Do you perform acts of kindness toward people in your family or at work who mock you because you’re a Christian?
4. Feedback Test: But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15)
– Do you freely give feedback to fellow believers about their walk with Christ but rarely accept honest, constructive feedback from your spouse, kids and church family on your own walk with Christ? Are you resistant to their pleas for you to change where needed?
Speaking with Our Lives Validates the Quality of our Faith
Beloved, our lives are constantly speaking to those around us. My prayer is that this brief little essay will challenge you to examine your life and, by God’s grace and the love and care of His church, stimulate you to live a life that speaks so loudly of His greatness and glory that your words cannot not be heard!
 Gender Jabber: “Do Women Talk More Than Men? “July 2007.ScientificAmerican.com