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"Children hear what you say but they believe what you do". I can't recall just where I heard or read that observation but it stuck in my mind as being very relevant at a time in the life of our society when it seems that children are increasingly being denied the positive examples of role models.


There is a power or influence that comes through words, i.e. what we say to children. But that influence is nothing like the power that is exercised by those who live out the truth of what they say. This reminds me of another popular saying that was doing the rounds some years ago "I can't hear what you say because what you do speaks so loudly". A variation on that is simply: "Actions speak louder than words".


Children need role models in whose lives they see a consistency between what is said and what is done. Children are not looking for perfection but they do need consistency of example. In fact, all of us have people who are role models or examples for us. One of the qualifications for any person to be an example that we want to emulate is that what they say and what they do are the same.


Jesus addressed this dynamic when He challenged the inconsistency in the lives of the clergy of His day.


Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,"The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the Scriptures.So practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practice what they teach. Matt 23:1-3NLT


"They don't practice what they teach". Could this be one of the reasons why people seemed to stay away from 'church' in droves - then and now? There are too many people 'out there' who do not go to Church because, they say, of the hypocrites that inhabit that place. Now I know that oftentimes this is just a pathetic excuse; a statement of convenience. Then again, there might just be some legitimacy in that claim.


Time and again in the Bible we are called to be examples to others so that the power of a consistent, authentic life can be released among the people of God and especially to those 'out there'. The example of Jesus is supreme in this regard


After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, "Do you understand what I was doing? You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because it is true. And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet.I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. John 13:12-16 NLT


Speaking of things sticking in my mind, I recall a question asked in my hearing many years ago but the power of the question has not diminished over those years. "If the people in your Church followed your example in thought, word and action, what kind of Church would you have?"  In some ways, that question loads too much on us - as though we are so close to perfect that the difference doesn't matter. The truth is that there are, most likely, people who do see us as role models.


"Children hear what you say but they believe what you do". That is not only true of children in the social sense. It is also true of those who are "children in the faith". Jesus said, "Do as I have done to you". What would we have if we obeyed that command? I think we would have a lot of people who talked and acted like Jesus. How bad could that be??!!

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