“Living Is Speaking”
60 Minutes recently did a segment on Brian Banks, a high schooler from a rough neighborhood who had secured a scholarship to play college football. He made out with a girl, going no further, who later that day falsely accused him of rape and kidnapping. Though DNA evidence exonerated him, his attorney advised him to plead “no contest” because of his age, size, and race, thinking Brian wouldn’t get a fair trial. He received the maximum sentence of five years in jail. The school was sued for $1.5 million for lack of security, since the incident took place on school property. Upon release after those five years in prison, he had to register as a sex offender and wear an electronic monitoring ankle “bracelet”. Some time after this, the woman contacted him via Facebook and said she wanted to see him, to reconnect, to hang out. In disbelief, he agreed, and during the meeting videotaped a conversation with her as she said she wanted to help him prove his innocence but couldn’t–she didn’t want to give back the million dollars from the lawsuit. She acknowledged the wrong but offered no real remorse or apology. With a videotaped confession taken to court, he was declared innocent.
Fourteen days after being cleared, he returned to pursuing his dream of becoming a pro football player when he accepted Coach Carroll’s invitation to try out as a long-shot for the Seattle Seahawks. Despite those in the business who took an interest in him and supported him, he was not able to make it to the pros, making it instead onto a semi-pro team. He continues to train in hopes of some day going pro. Not interested in getting even, he just wants to move on with his life. Could we do that sincerely in that situation? Five years in prison, several years of not even being able to attend his niece’s birthday party because other children were around, the lost years when he could have been pursuing his dream, and the destruction of his reputation? Yet, Brian has let it go. The way he lives his life speaks volumes about who he is. Because of the way he has conducted himself, Coach Carroll–who had offered him the scholarship when he was in high school–and others have wanted to help him.
In 2 Corinthians 6:1-13, Paul urges those in Corinth to be ambassadors for Christ: “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (v. 2). In other words, don’t receive God’s grace in vain! He holds up his life as an example, in effect saying, “it’s not so much my words that present the gospel, but my life presents the gospel—what it means to receive God’s grace in the right way.” After listing difficulties he has faced, he lists helps: “…in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…” These things are from the power of God. In the face of the aforementioned difficulties, God has given these things. Paul then appeals to the Corinthians: we have opened our hearts wide to you, now open your hearts to us (vs. 11-13).
Trustworthiness is central to the effectiveness of your communication with someone. If they trust you, the will be more open to you. Paul makes a strong case that he and those with him are trustworthy, then admonishes the Corinthians to live that life as well. How much our life speaks, and not just in our words! Is the message of our lives consistent with that of our words?