Actions Speak

You never have to wonder what an ant’s end game is.

They don’t say they want one thing and then do something entirely different or nothing at all.

There is no do what I say and not what I do when it comes to ants; Ants are doers.

The kitchen conversation this week included my admonishment for my children – to believe what someone does. I told my girls, “If he tells you he loves you and then acts like he doesn’t – he doesn’t love you and you need to leave him. Actions speak louder than words and actions are the truth.”

Why are we so prone to believing what people say instead of evaluating them by what they actually do? The question got me thinking about a verse I learned as a child, James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves (KJV). It’s an extension of the same idea. If, because you have heard the word, perhaps by going to church on Sunday, you believe that you are “ok,” but you do nothing with what you have learned – you are fooling yourself. Your actions, or, in this case, inaction, speaks louder than your words.

Wow. Growing up, we would have said that was someone who, “talk a good one, but, ain’t really ’bout it.” That was the worst kind of person to be. “Don’t talk about it, be about it,” was a common admonition in my neighborhood. Nobody liked a fraud. It was actually an excellent lesson on both practicing what you preach and watching what you say. Either way, you would be called out if your actions didn’t add up to your rhetoric. It made you far less likely to posture and pretend because if you said it, you’d better be ready to follow through.

I decided to go back and read a little more closely into what James was talking about (I’ve included the chapter below). The context is important. James is talking about trials and temptations and how we are to act during these trials and temptations because then we show we are true believers. The vice principal at my old job had a quote hanging on the door to his office, “Adversity doesn’t build character; it reveals it” – James Lane Allen. This chapter seems to say the same thing. We show not only who we are but that we know who we are by how we act when things are not going well. Anyone can keep up a good face when it’s smooth sailing, but you really find out a person’s true nature when things fall apart. If they don’t walk the walk, it is like they have looked in the mirror and then forgotten what they looked like.

So the question remains, am I simply a hearer? Or, am I a doer? Do I have faith and trust in God when the waves of life lash against my bow and threaten to sink me, or do I waver and sink like Peter? The Bible never tells us to come timidly before the throne of grace, it tells us to come boldly. People are only bold when they are convinced of either the value of their cause, the value of themselves, or the intentions of the one they are asking. So then, if we are confident in our God and we are doing what He has commanded us to do, we can be confident in ourselves. There is no excuse to be a hearer only.

Lord, let my Sunday spirit be my Monday motivation, my Tuesday touch, my Wednesday work, my Thursday take-part in, my Friday force and my Saturday step-up! Let my Actions speak of who YOU are.

James 1 New International Version (NIV)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Greetings.

Trials and Temptations

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. 11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Footnotes:

  1. James 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verses 16 and 19; and in 2:1, 5, 14; 3:10, 12; 4:11; 5:7, 9, 10, 12, 19.

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