Actions speak louder than words – it’s a saying as old as time.
I like how William Shakespeare said it: “Action is eloquence.”
1 Corinthians 13:1 says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”
There’s a whole lot of noise in this world, so many clanging cymbals all at once, and I’m tired of adding to it.
Sometimes I consider taking a temporary vow of silence.
What would it look like to be able speak my love only through my actions?
A peach tree is recognized not because it shouts out its name, but because it produces peaches. Likewise a Christian should be recognized for the goodness their lives produce. We shouldn’t have to say a word; the fruit of our life speaks for us.
In other words, I don’t want to hear what you believe; I want to see it working. You can stand on the street corner and shout out until you’re black and blue that God is good, that He is speaking to you in your quiet times, and you are following him, but if the fruit I see in you is division, anxiety and pride, I would rather you put a cork in it. John 13:35 says “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” That’s it. It’s not by how well we can quote the scripture, not by how serious we can make our face when we talk about God, not by how much of the world we abstain from. It is by our Love!
The band Extreme said it so well…
“More than words is all you have to do to make it real
Then you wouldn’t have to say that you love me
‘Cause I’d already know…”
Heaven forbid my actions would strikingly contradict my words. I see this in the church and I cringe – people saying they believe in Love – but minutes later they are making serious derogatory remarks behind someone’s back. They have a failed marriage, they vote differently than you, they sin different than you….and so you puff yourself up by putting them down.
Where is the fruit of love?
Speaking of differences, do gays feel loved unconditionally by us, the church? Or does the love we give them come with the understanding that to receive it they must first know that we are right and they are wrong and they will eventually need to change if they want our full love and acceptance. I’m glad that’s not how God loves us.
Maybe its’ time to examine our hearts. Maybe we would all do well to take a vow of silence for a while, and instead of talking, we could serve others . . . give of our time . . . give of our hearts . . . .
Also, can we stop criticizing others (sometimes we act like angry toddlers when people make choices without consulting us first for our oh-so-perfect opinion…. ‘She is getting married too young’ . . . ‘They are not ready to buy a house’ . . . ‘They need to spank their children’. . . ) and can we just accept that it’s okay that they are different from us? No one knows the best path for us except God.
We are all on this crazy journey of life at the same time so instead of stepping on each other, let’s just walk together, yes?
What if we accepted that we don’t know everything, we don’t know best, and we certainly may be wrong? What if we leave the knowing to God? We would be free from the pressure to feel like we have to state aloud how much we know all the time. What if we leave the talking to God too . . . and let His Spirit convict others. Let His spirit guide them where He wants them to go. . . Sometimes it may be the enemy trying to cause division, sure. So we are to submit to God, resist the devil, and shut our mouths. Other times it is just our stinking rotten flesh, our nature that likes to put others down. I have clearly side-tracked here, maybe this is more about what it means to love than the alignment of our actions and words, but it still supports my theme – that it is better to love in deed than to claim we love but then stick our foot out to trip our neighbor.
I pray that in the places where my words and actions don’t line up, God would show me my hypocrisy – so I can own it and repent. I can take part in grand talk, and have great aspirations, but if I never put my feet to action, what good is any of it? I struggle with this. I do.
This is me trying like hell to get the plank out of my own eye. I get it. I want to live it. I have dreams. I have beliefs – and I want nothing more than to live out those beliefs. We get stuck in our old habits, our old ways of life. It’s comfortable there, and we know what to expect.
Branching out and stepping up to action takes guts. It takes learning to stand your ground and yet learning to let go at the same time. The challenges of plunging into the unknown territory of loving someone you thought was unlovable, or putting our agenda and opinions aside so that God’s mission is priority, or rearranging your life to be less about getting your errands done and more about forging relationships with those who need it most – it all takes so much courage.
But we must step up.
We must stop analyzing what a perfect dive looks like and just jump off the diving board. It has got to start somewhere.
So I am praying for strength to act.
I am praying for my eyes to be opened.
I want to see my life as it really is, not as I’ve imagined it to be. We all have these ideals that sit on trophy shelves in our mind. We identify ourselves by these ideals, think we are good people, but people identify us not by those ideals on the shelf but by our actions. It is plain and simple, yet I am hammering it over and over because I believe it is that important. We think we are good people because we believe the right thing, and we are fools! Even the demons believe Jesus is the son of God. It is the ones who FOLLOW, who act, that are true Christians.
I’ll leave you with a section of James that encourages and challenges me today:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? ” from James 2
Let us learn this.
I pray that we, the church, learn to shut up and roll up our sleeves.