Show VS Tell – A New Light

Life and Happiness, Religion

As part of my new year’s goals, I’ve been working hard to incorporate exercise and God into my every day life. As a result, I’ve started using podcasts on my daily walks to keep me motivated. Not only am I exploring new and exciting ideas through the podcasts – many of them Christian-based – it’s also helping me keep up my walking routine.

The other day I began listening to a new podcast, “Exploring My Strange Bible.” This is Tim Mackie’s personal podcast (he created The Bible Project). The podcast focused that day on Hebrews and was labeled, “An Invitation to Rest”. To be honest, I think it’s been mislabeled. I don’t remember much about resting within this podcast.

However, Tim did speak about how our actions often do not align with our words. All too often, what we SAY we believe and what we actually believe are separate things. They may be CLOSE, but not exactly the same. (Check out his podcast for the full story and a great illustration.)

During the sermon, Tim said, “My actions betray my faith.” I was so floored by this statement. I realized that my actions often betray my faith, but not in good ways. You see, your actions could betray your faith in a good way, like you often feed the homeless or you drive a person somewhere because they don’t have a car or you donate half your salary to a deserving organization. But, my actions, especially in the last few months of last year, were not betraying my faith in a positive light. I was getting angry about a lot of things. I lashed out at my husband and some friends. I sheltered myself away from people simply because they were ticking me off with every single thing they did or said.

Sad. I know.

Instead of being the Christian I believe we should be – one that is forgiving, merciful and loving – I was being the opposite. I kind of see it as a little temper tantrum now. And I can blame all sorts of things for it, but it’s really no use now. Now, I’m simply trying to learn from it.

As Tim talked on through his sermon, I realized this concept was a lot like the writing concept of “Show VS Tell.” If you’re a writer, you know what I mean. It’s important, as a writer, to show your audience what you mean through descriptive words rather than simply telling them what you mean. Here’s an example:

TELLING: Tom was tired.

SHOWING: Tom felt his head drop to his chest and his eyelids start to flutter closed. The weight of his late nights seemed to be finally catching up to him.

You see? In the showing example, I’m trying to paint a picture of what Tom’s exhaustion looks like, not simply telling my reader he’s tired.

By thinking about this concept, I thought, “That’s exactly what many of us do. We only TELL people what we believe instead of SHOWING them what we believe.”

This revelation opened a door of thought to me. What if I began showing my faith on a daily basis instead of simply talking about my faith? What would it look like?

Well, using our same way of examples:

TELLING: “I told her I think the church should be willing to open its doors to everyone. We need to share God’s love with the least fortunate.”

SHOWING: I take canned goods to the less fortunate. Or perhaps I make them an actual meal. Or maybe I sit and listen to an elderly person who has no one else to talk to. Or I send a card to someone who is feeling low and needs encouragement. I DO THE WORK. Without looking for attention, without seeking a pat on the shoulder…I simply DO THE WORK God has told me to do. And it SHOWS the people in my life and around me that I believe we should help one another. And I give grace, mercy and forgiveness when it’s necessary.

Doesn’t seem like a real life-altering thing, does it? Except it really hit me hard since I had struggled for several months now with feelings of bitterness and anger. Feelings I didn’t know what to do with and wasn’t sure how to fix.

But God is showing me how to fix it. He put this podcast right into my lap (or, rather, ear) and I’m so glad he did. In fact, I’m heading out now for another walk and another episode of this podcast to see what God’s word might be for me today. I am so blessed that God is growing me in these news ways this year and I can’t wait to see what else is in store.

I hope you have a great week and remember to SHOW your faith, not simply TELL it.

God bless.


7 thoughts on “Show VS Tell – A New Light

  1. The show vs. tell examples are great, both from a writing perspective and from a “how we live our lives” perspective. This is integrity at its core, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, there’s a lot and I’m going to be thinking about it for a while. Glad I happened upon your blog. 🙂

  2. Back when I was still working (I have been retired 31 years) our company allowed our employees to have a spread at Christmas time when we brought in food and had a time together. I had 30-35 people working for me and they had gotten together and gave me a present. It was a Study Bible, lots of footnotes and comments. In front they wrote a note thanking me for being a Christian man. I was surprised as I never preached at them or talked about being Christian. Later in the day I asked one of them about it. He said they knew by the way I acted and treated them and really were glad because some of the supervisors were terrible to their employees. It really made me happy to know what they thought of me. You don’t need to talk, talk, talk just live it.

    1. What a wonderful testimony! I’ve never met you personally but can tell by your comments on my blog that you are a Christian man. It is very obvious and you do live it out. Thank you once again for your comments.

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