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Show, Then Tell

2010 August 23
by John H

Many of you know that I am a writer—mostly of children’s nonfiction books and articles, with some unpublished fiction. One of the fundamental rules of writing is “show, don’t tell.” If you write, “The girl was happy,” that is telling us what her emotions are. But if you say, “The girl skipped down the sidewalk, singing ‘Happy Birthday,’” you show us her happiness. Showing is more powerful and more active than telling.
For this article, I want to twist that writing fundamental. In evangelism, we must “Show, Then Tell.” If a Christian is a complaining employee, only doing what she must to get by, an inconsiderate neighbor, and an indifferent family member, her example is a negative one. When she wants to tell someone about Jesus, her actions drown out the words. On the other hand, if she is a conscientious worker, a kind neighbor, and a blessing to her family, she is showing her commitment to Christ. When the opportunity comes to tell a person about the Savior, her actions have made hearing the words possible. She can show and then tell the difference that Jesus has made in her life.
We have to be ready to share the gospel with those around us. But if our example doesn’t show the value of a life in Christ, our telling is useless. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
So show and then tell.

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