What You Show, Tells

Who We Are

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship GOD, then choose a god you’d rather serve— and do it today.” . . . The people answered, “We’d never forsake GOD! Never!” -- Joshua 24:15-16 THE MESSAGE

The essence of human personality as God has ordained it is that it is given its fullest expression in Christ and has a great part in determining our path through life.

Children cannot develop into responsible, competent human beings if they are always told what to do.

Personality and character are directed from within. This inner directedness is perfected in redemption.

Moreover, a child’s character cannot be known—even to himself—until he is turned loose to do what he wants. It is precisely what he wants and how he handles those wants that both reveal and make him the person he is.

What we want, what we think, what we decide to do when the word of God does not come (or when we have so immersed ourselves in him that his voice within us is not distinct from our thoughts and perceptions)—these show who we are: either we are God’s mature children, friends and coworkers, or we are something less.


Consider a decision that is before you—large or small. Which choice involves motives of love, joy or peace? Which choice will develop in you more humility, kindness and self-control?

(from “Hearing God Throughout the Year, a 365 Day Devotional” from the writings of Dallas Willard)

My thoughts on choices, inspired by this devotional and the shared experience, strength and hope of my brothers- and sisters-in-Christ, and in- “recovery”:

Character is not so much DEVELOPED by adversity as it is REVEALED by adversity; 

The person that shirks responsibility, work or difficult decisions, the person that engages in petty rudeness, trolling, mockery, theft and trickery, was not (usually) forced into those behaviors by having had to take on a bad, tough, or poorly paying job, by the comments or behaviors of others; they weren't made "bad" by unremitting deprivation, or by insufficient personal power to practice honest, candid, and kind behaviors.

Most of the people behaving badly around us, in physical or “virtual” space and time, are not doing so because they are, intrinsically and fundamentally, evil.  They are the way they are because they’ve never learned or been shown how to overcome their selfish and self-centered “sin nature”. 

To be truly evil or to be servants of the evil one, they must first have been told and shown the right things to do and the right way to do things, and then rejected or ignored those.

To be truely good we must seek the power to be that from a power greater than ourselves, and to follow His example in the choices we make.

The story is told of a well-respected ancient Greek philosopher and teacher to whom a parent brought an unruly and disobedient teen-ager.

The frustrated father asked the “great teacher” to provide appropriate and necessary discipline and education to correct the situation, so the teacher turned from the child, and slapped the father.

All parents can have a huge influence in shaping the attitudes and behaviors of their children, especially in the earliest years of their children’s lives. 

However, once any kid begins interacting with the world outside of it’s mother’s and father’s influence and examples, many other powerful forces come into play – and most of those are poor teachers and role models.

Only the Son of God is powerful enough to slap the whole world; and he will, and then rebuild it on a foundation of true justice, mercy, grace and love; He has promised, and He is faithful.


Human beings have an amazing capacity to learn, quickly and well, life lessons and “life hacks” by simple observation.

Consequently, the most effective teaching involves not just TELLING people the right way to do things, it is reinforced and made immensely powerful by consistently SHOWING them how.

You can learn more about how to do almost any task in life by watching an expert do it than you can by just reading books (or blogs) about it. 

Combining education and observation with practice and practical experience is a powerful training technique, but the “education” offered and examples demonstrated by most of the world’s most prominent and high-profile celebrities and athletes, academic, political and private sector leaders, is not one designed to bring out the best in young minds and spirits; in fact, it can be well-argued that the opposite is true.  

Godly parents can go a long way towards correcting and guarding against wrong and evil influences, in teaching their children, first to “pay attention” to what is being shown them, then how to best understand that, and then how to “deal” rightly with the lessons inherent in all that. 

They do that by “Show and Tell”; they do it best by “Tell, and Show… and Show, and Show, and Show some more…”.

I remember a time, more than a quarter of a century ago, when I went on a (motorcycle) run with a bunch of “clean and sober” bikers (the 5th Chapter MC).

We ended up in a beautiful State Park in central Ohio, and that night around campfires, several of us “shared” about the events and circumstances of our lives and “recoveries”.

One brother recounted how his life had been turned around by his faith in his higher power and his practice of the principles of the program of recovery contained in the fifth chapter of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, entitled “How it works”.  

He’d been able, as a “clean and sober” biker, to start up and successfully manage a small but thriving motorcycle repair and customization business, providing employment to a couple of others and a good income and lifestyle to his own and other families.  Honest, good and independent motorcycle shops like that are awfully hard to find, and consequently, can really succeed, if done right. 

He’d also met and married a beautiful young woman in recovery, and just a couple of years before, they’d had a healthy baby boy, together.

Then, his wife relapsed. 

Just the previous month, she’d cleaned out their joint account, the businesses accounts, and ran off with her dealer, taking their son with her.  

My brother was about to lose his house and his business, his employees had lost their jobs, and he had already “lost” the two people most precious to him.

As he recounted this turn of events, there were tears glistening in the firelight on many of the faces around the circle, grizzled, bearded, clean-shaven, young and old alike.

My brother paused, hanging his head… I think he was, for the moment, unable to speak… but no one interrupted or said, even in comforting, a word.

He raised his head, cleared his throat, and said through his own tears, in a clear, though trembling voice:

“Isn’t it great that all I have to do, now, is the next right thing.”

“All I have to do is the next right thing.”

It went thru me like a bolt.  I carry it with me, still.

I contemplated it, for a long time, like a precious but mysterious artifact; wondering: how can a person be sure of the “next right thing”?

Then the Lord showed me – it’s always the same thing;

It’s whatever is most Loving.

Jesus said:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -- John 3:16 (NIV)

Luke told how this “giving” developed, in the events we commemorate this season. Here’s part of his account:

8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.

9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:8-16

The night before his crucifixion, thirty-something years after that, the Lord told those gathered around him:

“A new command I give you: Love one another.

As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -- John 13:34-35

Show (and show and show some more) and tell everybody, especially the kids, won’t you? 

It’s about Love – the “next right thing” to do -- and to show -  it’s ALWAYS about love!

Praise the Lord!