Show or Tell: Which One Works Better?

My family is in the midst of putting together a new space in our home, the basement. Don’t think of a dank and dark place, because our home is a split level it is a wonderfully bright area, especially with the new French doors we had installed. We had to do some drywalling, got the whole room painted, and just a month ago we got new flooring in. It is mostly finished now and needs to be furnished. 

It is meant a multipurpose area, a place to host a large number of guests, my office, and when guests are in town, a guest room. This week we installed some curtains and made a big purchase, a Murphy bed. 

Naturally, we ordered this hideaway bed chest-looking contraption on Amazon. When we saw the delivery would weigh 300 pounds we were shocked and immediately hoped we’d be able to get the thing delivered right into the basement. I’m pretty sure we even prayed that it would be.

When the delivery guys came the one who approached our front door indicated that they could deposit it into the living room through the front door or in the garage through broken English. Those were apparently their instructions. They wouldn’t be carrying it through our house. I made my hopes for the basement known as best as I could with the language barrier. 

The gentleman I was talking with took me over to his companion apparently either thinking he could understand me or he could communicate their resolved position better to me. I saw that hydraulics were being used to move the item from the truck to the ground and they had heavy-duty tools to get it in the house that I didn’t have to get it to the basement. I really wanted their help. We tried to talk. I tried to tell him there were doors in the back of our house that led to the basement. It wasn’t working well. Our verbal vocabularies didn’t sync. 

Eventually, he pointed to where I was pointing and I understood that he wanted me to show him what I was talking about.

I led the way to the back of our house and now I definitely was praying that they would deliver to the back. How could I do this myself. I’d have to call in friends for backup. It would be a whole ordeal.

Once they saw that the path was clear and easy there was no hesitation. They walked back to the truck, pushed and pulled on their special cart, and laid all those pounds to rest right where I wanted. It was such a gift and saved me from all the time coordinating outside help would have required.

We don’t speak the same mother tongue. My poquito español and their little English weren’t enough to communicate effectively. But I could show them what I wanted in body language by physically leading the way.

I think that is how things work in revealing the heavenly love God has given us. It is not enough for us to use English or Spanish or any language on earth. Words we tell others don’t cut it. We must show the love of God as John, Jesus’ beloved disciple and friend, wrote in his first letter in chapter 3. Read the excerpt from yourself from verses 11-19

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another…16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?

18 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.

It is easy to spout words that sound good and true but as the common saying goes, actions speak louder than words. Loving actions communicate the truth we need to understand the most. It doesn’t matter how much a parent tells their kids they love them if they are never around to hold them, help them or show them how to live. As another saying goes, talk is cheap. Be present in people’s lives and be ready to back up your words with your works, loving others with the kind of actions Jesus used to show us that He truly is the way the truth, and the life. Others may only believe Him to be those things if we show them and don’t just tell them.

I wrote some words, now for some action.

Who needs your love today? What action will you take?

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