Show, Don’t Tell

Matthew 7:16-17: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.”


I have a pet peeve.  When my children disobey me (and let’s be realistic, it’s going to happen), they try to apologize thinking that will make things all better.  That’s okay for minor infractions but for the tough stuff, I don’t want to hear a half-hearted, “I’m sorry,” with no action to back it up.  I want to see them really making an effort to change their behavior.  Everyone has something they have to work on.  When my kids blow off the hard work of making necessary changes in their life while thinking an appropriately placed, “I’m sorry” here or there will fix everything, they are mistaken.  I am much happier as their mom not hearing anything and instead seeing honest-to-goodness effort while they move in the right direction.

Does that mean I want perfection?  No.  I wouldn’t ask for mastery from them when I have daily, hourly, sometimes minute-to-minute struggles myself.  I just want to see progress.  So, in those instances when they try to get lazy and throw the old, “I’m sorry,” out there, my response is, “Show me, don’t tell me.”  I want to see a change, I don’t want to hear empty words.

What about my own life, though?  Do I put effort into making things right with my husband, my parents, my best friend, or the woman whose feelings I hurt from church?  An off-handed, “sorry” doesn’t cut it when they need to see honest-to-goodness effort from me.  It’s hard to expect that kind of action from my kids if I’m offhandedly saying, “sorry” to my husband about overdrawing the checking account for the third time this year without changing my spending habits.  Or what about the, “Oops” I gave to my parents when I walked in three hours later than planned, with no phone call, after they had graciously offered to watch my kids during some “me” time?  How about cancelling for the fifth time in a row on my best friend with only a cursory “something came up” as an explanation?

If I’m not going to let my own kids off the hook for their actions but actually make them take responsibility, then I better be setting that same example in my own life.  Again, perfection isn’t required, but taking action steps in the right direction is.

Think about what your home life and friendships could look like if everyone took responsibility for their own actions and made a serious effort to change the things that needed attention.  That’s the kind of lifestyle I’m moving toward.

One Reply to “Show, Don’t Tell”

  1. I’m guilty. I’m glad you posted this as I needed to read it. It’s so easy to say “sorry” almost out of habit, without putting the effort in to make things right. But by the grace of God we can change!

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