Walk the Walk

The story is told that in the summer of 1805, a number of Indian chiefs and warriors met in council at Buffalo Creek, New York, to hear a presentation of the Christian message by a Mr. Cram from the Boston Missionary Society. After the sermon, a response was given by Red Jacket, one of the leading chiefs. Among other things, the chief said:

Red Jacket

Red Jacket

Brother, you say that there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the Book?

Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat us, we will then consider again of what you have said.

I suspect that this same story could be repeated over and over again by all generations and all cultures who have wrestled with the validity of the Christian message.

I don’t know where I first heard it, but many times in life I have heard some version of what even might sound like a cliché. That is, “Don’t talk the talk, but walk the walk.” Another version is . . .

Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.

In a sense, this is what Jesus is addressing in the rather short parable about two sons. (See Matthew 21:28-32) When Jesus told this parable, He had already entered Jerusalem for the final week of His life. He has been gloriously ushered into Jerusalem in what we call the Triumphal Entry. They hailed His coming into the city. (Talk talks.) However, the Triumphal Entry quickly turns into the Cleansing of the Temple, the indignation of some over what children are saying about Him, and then the cursing of the Fig Tree which is a serious indictment of the religious crowd of the day. Entering the Temple again, the religious leaders began to challenge His authority. (Walk talks.) This prompts a discussion about John the Baptist which then led to this parable.

Here is an outline of that text found in Matthew 21:28-32.

  • A Shocking Story—Neither son had displayed model behavior, but one obviously worse and the other a change of behavior illustrative of repentance.
  • A Simple Question—What do you think? Which of the two did his father’s will?
  • A Self-evident Answer—The answer was so obvious that the text indicates a two-word answer: “The first.”
  • A Startling Conclusion—Jesus shifted the story on them (and us) from mere story to personal reality.

Application of the Text: So What?

The parable is a mirror instead of a window. The temptation here is to say, “This parable is not about me.” The truth is there is a bit of Pharisee in all of us. Looking into spiritual mirrors, though usually painful is always pivotal. Sometimes, looking into these spiritual mirrors leads to honesty and correction. Unfortunately, other times, these painful moments lead to the hardening of our hearts which leads to the rejection of God’s Word and will for our lives.

Though the parable may sound like a cliché to some, it presents the consistent pattern of an authentic relationship to God.

Jesus’ story reminds me of another story—a story told centuries before Jesus told His story.

So the Lord sent Nathan to David. When he arrived, he said to him:

There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very large flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing except one small ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised her, and she grew up with him and with his children. From his meager food she would eat, from his cup she would drink, and in his arms she would sleep. She was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man could not bring himself to take one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for his guest.

David was infuriated with the man and said to Nathan: “As the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! Because he has done this thing and shown no pity, he must pay four lambs for that lamb.”

Nathan replied to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from Saul. I gave your master’s house to you and your master’s wives into your arms, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that was not enough, I would have given you even more. Why then have you despised the Lord’s command by doing what I consider evil? You struck down Uriah the Hethite with the sword and took his wife as your own wife—you murdered him with the Ammonite’s sword. (2 Samuel 12:1-9)

How will you hear? Is there something you need to hear? Will you humble yourself, and respond in repentance. Or will you hear, harden, and reject God’s Word and will?

Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.

Is this going to be a sweet Christian cliché in your life or will you allow this to be a word of conviction and correction in your life?

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