“Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”
This quote has been around for quite some time, but the biblical foundation for it has been around much longer. The book of 1 Samuel highlights a key component in your character and the first statement appears in Hannah’s prayer of thanks to God. She said, “Talk no more…[for] actions are weighed” (1 Samuel 2:3). As someone else has said, “Actions always prove why words mean nothing.”
The key personalities within the beautiful story of 1 Samuel reinforce this golden standard of character. Eli was a judge over Israel for forty years. He had probably seen the comet-like brilliance of a young man named Samson. Eli raised his sons in a very difficult time in Israel’s history. In the last few chapters of the book of Judges, you have read of the moral failure of other Levites. By comparison, Eli was probably a standout Levitical leader. He taught Samuel how to respond to the Lord’s call, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Eli would more than likely be the kind of guy you would rate as a rising star in the religious leadership of Israel. The one blight upon his ministry was the character of his two sons. Eli confronts them, but his actions are either anemic or absent because there is no change. Eli lacks passion.
Later in the book, you will read of another man named Saul. If Eli was the rising star amongst the religious leadership, Saul was blazing his way to the top in politics. The people were raving about their handsome and capable king. He looked as “kingly” as they come. He knew the right words to say, but his actions repeatedly left him in a lurch. He found quickly that obedience “is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Finally, Samuel finds a man whom God will designate as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Notice as the story unfolds in the following chapters, David is a man of action. While the armies are stationed, paralyzed by fear, David steps into the dusty valley ready to conquer the enemies of God. When he is challenged to kill 100 Philistines to win the hand of the king’s daughter, he slaughters 200. David also had some of the most beautiful words which many are recorded in the book of Psalms, but his words were enriched by the sincerity of his actions. “Talk no more for actions are weighted by the Lord!”
Evaluate your own tendencies. Are you a Christian who knows how to talk the talk? Or are your words enriched because your walk and your talk are saying the same thing?
The final appendices to the historical account in the book of Judges are meant to vividly portray the abhorrent practices of a people who no longer live by a moral compass. Both accounts, have one character in common. The immoral and aberrant decisions of the Israelites hinges upon the central figure—the Levite. The sons of Levi were the chosen representatives of God. Instead of representing a holy God and directing the affections of the people toward Him, they represented their own carnal lifestyles and left the people to flounder in their own imaginations. From the first story told in Judges 17-18, the downfall of the spiritual leadership was leading a man-devised worship instead of a God-desired worship.
In western culture, much clutters effective ministry. People debate worship style, ministry models, and marketing. Leaders wait for the latest poll or socio-economic study to help them pinpoint their target audience. Since when did God challenge His preachers to target an audience? These pursuits are not essential to a healthy ministry and a healthy ministry that begins to accumulate these practices will soon be effectively benign in the culture. A healthy ministry focuses all its energy on preaching God’s word and living by it.
I would challenge any church to consider shedding the gimmicks to attract a crowd of carnally-minded, pleasure-seeking, Christ-professing people. Drop the egg hunts, concerts, raffles, and blessing of the bikes which are only marketing ploys. Instead, follow Christ’s suggestion, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). The church is sending a mixed message to the world. Because of our self-centered strategies we are saying, “Christ is not attractive alone. We will tantalize you with incentives and entertain you until your guard is down then we will spring Jesus on you.
I would challenge any church to put a stop to the worship style debate and replace the pursuit for the most awe-inspiring, emotionally-charged song service with a meaningful, heart-rending prayer service.
I would challenge any church to lay aside the marketing methods and rely on the meaningful methods of a sincerely compassionate life. Society’s broken moral compass is not their problem. Yes, they will stand accountable for their own individual actions. Yet, the way of the culture is permitted by the way of the church. It is our problem. It is the church’s problem. It is time to be the representatives we are called to be. Otherwise, stop complaining about the depravity of the culture you fail to influence.
There is a lot of tough talk in Judges 13-16. You feel the high-octane, testosterone-driven banter throughout the story of Samson. The key question revealed at the end of the account is the question Samson never seemed to answer correctly until his grand finale. Delilah asks the question, “Wherein lies your great strength?”
Samson toys with the danger of a surreptitious woman, but the saddest aspect is the realization he never really acknowledges the correct answer in his life. Before he meets Delilah, Samson has a great victory. He kills one thousand men with a donkey’s jawbone. At the end of his vigilante moment, he tosses the crude weapon aside and announces his accomplishment. “I have slain!” There is no acknowledgment to God for His intervention. No sacrifice, no praise, not even a moment of reflection. Notice what brings him to his knees. Thirst conquers the mighty hero. In the face of tremendous victory, he is reminded how fragile his life really is. Thirst chokes his self-adulation. Wherein lies your great strength, O great one, who now scratches at the dust from which you came? Wherein lies your strength, O conquering hero, as you faint lifeless?
It is good to always live in the reality of your identity. God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness. Paul said, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Neither let the mighty man glory in his might, Let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, That he understandeth and knoweth me, That I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: For in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Samson was used in spite of his character, but in his final moment, his faith directed his life. He turned to God, his helper. This may very well be the sole reason his name appears in the Hall of Faith. Will you waste your life until your final act all because you fail to glory in God? Will you continue under the false premise of your own abilities? Will you rob God of the glory due to His name?
Glory in your weakness, that the power of God may rest upon you.
Did you read the news this morning? Not in your newspaper or on your mobile device, but rather did you read the current events in Judges 1-3?
Judges is a despondent chronicle of Israel’s atrocious failure. The people who were called out of the world when God called Abraham, revert to the characteristics and practices of that very world. In the book of Judges, you will read of the cyclical pattern through which Israel stumbles—Sin, Slavery, Supplication, Salvation. What was the culprit for this savage repetition?
“And…there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
A brief survey through Scripture reveals man’s nature is to forget God. In Exodus 5:2, Pharaoh brashly declared his agnosticism. Psalm 92:5-6 gets into the psychology of this condition and describes the God-ignorant individual is brutish. The word brutish indicates someone who thinks and acts more like a beast of the field than the crown of God’s creation. Turn to the New Testament and Paul informs his young preacher boy, Titus, there are many who claim to know God, but their works are not consistent with such a claim. They are disobedient to the Lord they claim they know (Titus 1:16). Paul prophecies of the terrible end for those who know not God in 2 Thessalonians 1:8 where he says, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God.” The path of agnosticism, intentional or ignorantly, leads to a tragic end.
If you remember throughout Deuteronomy and Joshua, there were multiple times where Moses and Joshua instructed the people to raise a memorial or write the law so the next generation could learn of the wonders of God’s work on Israel’s behalf. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Obviously, the teaching did not occur and diligence was out of the question.
Judges cycles through this experience and the headlines resemble today’s current events. Society at large devolves into animalistic behaviors. There are those who claim to be a Christian, yet their own works defy any such claim. Christian’s immorality, infidelity, and insincerity give the world a run for its money. There was a time where followers of Christ lived in such purity, they were duly named, Puritans. They had their own inconsistencies, but they did not resemble the world in any way. Parents, take heed. The world is a great educator. The world is very interactive, and the reward system is pleasant for a season. If you are not teaching your children or grandchildren diligently, then you are flirting with the agnosticism of the world. If you are not living a life of distinction. If you do not call sin what it is, if you are not worshiping God on Sunday with all your heart, if you are not living for God the rest of the week, then you will read the headlines of the future, “There arose another generation which knew not the Lord.”
You can make the difference.
One Christian radio personality loves to ask his guests one particular question. It’s a daunting question, but one which allows you to summarize your life. The question: What is the most courageous moment in your life?
It is a crucial question because most western Christian’s have grown comfortable with the inhabitants” in their heart. For a time they fought valiantly to eradicate the enemy, but they grew weary of the fight. Once upon a time, they were vigilant, but not they have grown satisfied because they are better than their friends. They halt just shy of total possession.
Possession is an interesting concept. We look to possess all of God’s blessings and yet we do not offer ourselves in toto. With God, it is all for all. You possess all HIs blessings once He possesses all of you. No other arrangement will satisfy. This is the reason Joshua challenges the people to be courageous. “Be ye therefore very courageous to keep and to do all that is written in the book” (Joshua 23:6). These people have fought the enemy. What could be more courageous? The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh left their families unprotected across Jordan. What could trump their courage?
The most courageous thing you can do is to commit to doing all of God’s command. Complete obedience requires you to empty yourself of pride and self-proclaimed wisdom. It requires turning your back to the gods of worldly wisdom, pragmatism, indulgence, and satisfaction. It requires a choice. Choose this day whom you will serve! As for you and your house, the most courageous decision you will ever make is to serve the Lord.