Can They Hear You?

A friend of mine is a law enforcement officer in Kentucky. He recently attended training with the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice. He shared this quote: “Your behavior is so loud, I can’t hear anything you say.” Ralph Waldo Emerson is attributed a similar quote: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

It is important to realize that actions do indeed speak louder than words. The scriptures actually agree with that principle. In Peter 3, Peter speaks to wives about how they should handle unbelieving husbands. He writes: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1–2). The key to winning over their disobedient husbands wasn’t handing him CDs of the preacher’s sermons or forcing him into some nightly bible study. It was simply behaving the way a godly woman of faith should behave—having respectful and pure conduct. Her behavior would be more important than any words she could speak.

One of the best examples of the importance of an example is found in John 13. As the disciples gather in an upper room for the Passover, Jesus knows they need to learn humility. They had consistently discussed which person was the greatest. They had shown they had struggled with humility. So rather than preach a sermon on humility, Jesus does the simplest thing to teach them. He simply takes a towel and girds his waist (v. 4). He then collected a basin of water began washing the disciples’ feet. Peter understands that the Son of God shouldn’t be washing feet! That’s the job of a servant (v. 6).

What was the point of Jesus’ act of washing feet? He explains:

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”” (John 13:12–20)

If Jesus—who they called Teacher and Lord—could was their feet, they could serve one another. This object lesson of washing feet is so powerful that any person who has read John 13 easily understands the point. Humble yourself and serve one another.

Remember… people can’t hear anything you say if your actions are louder than your message. Edgar A. Guest wrote:

I’d rather see a sermon
Than hear one any day;
I’d rather on should walk with me
Than merely tell the way.

This week, make sure those in your life you can influence see your sermon before they hear it.