Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987.
Source: White House Photographic Office (Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, ID C41244-9.) via Wikimedia Commons
Words without action are meaningless. How often do we learn this the hard way? How often have we made bold resolutions, filled with hope, but failed to deliver on the promise?
Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate in what was then West Berlin. His famous words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" still reverberate with consequences and meaning across Europe. Those words were given within a long speech that spoke of liberty and the great moral divide at the time between the Soviet Union and the West. Advisors on Reagan's staff and people with the State Department tried through several edits to tone down the speech and especially this key phrase. But Reagan persisted, knowing "the boys at State" would not be happy. He didn't care. Reagan knew his own mind and he backed it up with action.
Two years later the Soviet Union collapsed. In what seemed like but a brief historic moment this great power no longer existed. Reagan was not alone among world leaders who leaned heavily through words and actions on the decrepit relic of communism. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II were two other figures who are credited for this world changing event.
Through a steady foreign policy strategy Reagan had been working for six years to get to this moment. It was a dramatic example of words and acton coming together at the right moment to effect a change. Reagan instinctively knew this was the place and the time to make a bold statement. His acting experience had taught him that timing was everything.
The anniversary of this event is a good time come back to a recent thought I had of action over feelings. It is one thing to "feel" pity, remorse or sorrow. It is another to give tangible assistance, change or hold a hand to comfort. Our words must be backed by acts of compassion, changed behavior or clear direction. Words without action are meaningless.
The biblical epistle of James clearly show us what to do.
"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was".
James is calling us to action! Do something. Do more than just "feel". Give of yourself to God, to a person, to a great and noble cause, but get off the couch and engage in the activity of life. James' words motivate us to make something of our lives within the overarching calling of the Word of God.
"But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does". (James 1:22-26 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.  For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.  But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
What have you said you would do that remains undone? What do you need to say to someone to encourage or direct? Act on it. Be a doer and not a hearer. Keep your promise and earn someone's trust today.
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