It’s what you do not what you say

Published 8:30pm Saturday, March 16, 2013

Public speaking students have the opportunity to select their own topics for classroom speeches and I’ve heard some unusual ones over the years. One student delivered a persuasion speech about why we should remove all squirrels from the Judson College campus.

Another delivered an informational speech on how to kill zombies. Still another brought her rooster to class and talked about having “Othello” as a pet.

Two students gave persuasion speeches on proper tipping. Both had been servers in a restaurant and spoke pretty passionately about the practice of tipping hard-working servers. Though these students were in different classes and from different class years, they agreed that one meal per week had the worst tipping. Might the reader hazard a guess as to which meal that would be?

The correct answer is Sunday lunch. Ouch.

These students suggested we Christians are tight-wads on Sunday–at least at lunch if not also in morning church!

But living a kingdom ethic in our world is a significant part of our identity as God’s people. The gospels and the epistles talk a lot about this lifestyle — a life filled with goodness, mercy, generosity, service and integrity.

We evangelicals know the truth of Paul’s word in Ephesians 2:8. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” he wrote.

We know that nothing is good enough in our lives to earn salvation. We can’t be that good! But the apostle proceeded in verse 10 to write, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Though good works don’t save us, the Christian life is to be filled with good works. And it’s these good works that make our faith appealing to those without faith. The old adage is true: “What you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say.”

English pastor and medical doctor David Livingstone felt the call to Africa in the mid-19th century and after the passage of time his whereabouts were lost to the world.

“The New York Herald” sent reporter Henry Stanley to find him. Stanley retraced the missionary’s trail and found him after some months in Tanzania in 1869. His greeting is familiar to most. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” He asked as he approached the first Caucasian he’d seen in many months.

When Stanley left for Africa, he was not a Christian. When he returned after meeting Livingstone, he was a believer. Friends asked him what Livingstone had said that brought about his conversion.

“It wasn’t so much what he said,” Stanley replied, “it was what he was.”

The kingdom ethic we embrace every day is the finest witness we can have.

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