We think that our actions define us more than our words. But the reality is exactly the opposite. Our actions are important, but our actions are psychologically used to judge the truth of our words, and judging the truth of our words is an act of judging who you are as a person. Be careful what you say.
Take a parent who says, “Do what I say and not what I do.” A child looks at the action, realizes that the words are empty and vain, and doesn’t listen to what you say. Interestingly, the child will hold the words against you more than the contradictory action. If a smoker tells a child not to smoke while he is smoking, the child will hold the words against him more than the actual act of smoking. Most people won’t say, “You’re smoking…shame on you!” Instead, they’ll say, “But you tell me not to smoke!” It is the words you say that people use to define you as a person.
WHY PEOPLE DEFINE YOU BY YOUR WORDS
People, even God, will use your words as a benchmark to measure your character and personality (Matthew 15:17-20; Matthew 12:36-37; Proverbs 23:7). While Jesus was on being judged, it was not His deeds that they used to ultimately condemn Him. It was His words (Matthew 26:60-61; Matthew 26:65).
The words you speak define who you are — even lying. Lies tell a lot about the character and personality of the person too. The willingness to lie about an action is something that will be held against you, once found out, more than the action itself. Just ask any politician caught in a lie.
When our deeds and our words contradict, people usually believe that our actions are closer to the truth than the words we say, but people will judge you more on the words you used, words used to either cover up an action, to change people’s perception of an action, to flat-out lie about an action, or to be honest about the action. The words you allow to come out of your mouth define you in the eyes of people more than the action.
Your words give meaning to the action. If a person hauls off and hits a guy and turns around and walks away, no one knows why. No one understands. But if, after punching the guy, he declares, “You ever touch my ten-year old girl again, I’ll do worse!” Suddenly, the action makes sense to people. He is cheered. The words define the action. The words define the person.
Politicians fall into this trap all the time. Many political figures can live down a mistake, but they rarely live down a lie. The very fact that you try to deceive with your mouth tells volumes about you. So yes, it is more the words you say than the deeds you perform that define you in the minds of people.
Naturally, if your words are true, you ought to let your actions verify them. That’s the kicker. Our actions serve to verify our words and our words serve to define our actions, and in so doing, we define ourselves to people. Words don’t verify our actions — it is the action that verifies our words. Our words, however, define the action. So ultimately it is the words we speak that define us.
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