Speak softly and carry a big stick


We’ve all heard, at some point or another, “Walk softy and carry a big stick.”  This is a variation of President Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “Speak softy and carry a big stick.”  According to Wikipedia, then “Vice President Roosevelt first used the phrase in a conversation at the Minnesota State Fair on September 2, 1901.”  That phrase summarized Roosevelt’s idea of negotiating peacefully, simultaneously threatening with the “big stick”, or the military.

In other words, “I don’t agree with how you are behaving.  Let’s sit down and work this out.  If you refuse to listen to my side and sincerely consider modifying your behavior then I will find cause to modify your behavior with a much stronger form of communication.”

God walks softy and carries a big stick.  He corrects us when we stray.  He molds and shapes us into the person He wants us to be.  Without His guidance we live how we want to live.  We follow the path that we want to follow, often to disastrous consequences.  Without God we puff ourselves up and tell ourselves that we don’t need to “speak softly and carry a big stick.”  We pretend that we are the masters of our own life.  We convince ourselves that we are the “big stick.”

But our strength fails.  Our wisdom comes up short.  Our love runs out.  Our grace is sporadic.  We we try to walk without God in our life, we fail.

When looking at Roosevelt’s words from a Christian standpoint, who was the first to “speak softly and carry a big stick?”  God.  He does not do anything without first saying, “Hey, let’s talk about this.  Let’s work on correcting your behavior.”

Those without God in their lives find it all-too easy to resemble a stubborn teenager . . . “Look at me.  I’m not a kid anymore.  I’m all grown up, and I can do whatever I want, and there is nothing you can do about it.”  Put on your big boy pants, little boy, and keep trying to convince everyone that you have any kind of control over your life.  One day you may even convince yourself.

But who is that person not fooling?  God.

Philippians 2:10-11 (NIV) says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (text courtesy of biblegateway.com)

EVERY knee should bow, and EVERY tongue acknowledge . . . because despite how much we try to claim that we “carry the big stick,” the only one in control of our life is God.  And the only way to Him is through his son, Jesus Christ.  Your idle threats and perceived authority mean nothing when not backed by the authority of God.

Until next time . . .


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