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How many times have you heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words”? I can’t remember the first time I heard it, but I’m sure it was my parents after I’d apologized for something I’d done multiple times. They knew that saying, “I’m sorry” was different than being sorry. There was no power in my words if there was no will in my spirit. Without being sorry, they were merely empty words. There was no guarantee that I wouldn’t do it again. My parents wanted to be able to trust my words, but until they could, they watched my actions.
When I was a sales manager, I had to forecast my projections each week to my boss. I would sit on a call as we went from store to store with each manager saying what their store would do. The longer the call went on, the higher the numbers went. Each store would give a bigger number so as not to be outdone. When it came to me, I would always break the trend and give a reasonable number. I took flack for it on the call each week, but I felt it was better to be able to back up my words.
Some people would rather look good now by what they say and sacrifice their reputation long term by their actions. That’s not God’s way. I John 3:18 says, “Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love which shows itself in action. (GNB)” It’s easy to say we love others because that’s the right thing to say. It’s completely different to sacrifice what you want for what someone else wants. That’s what love does. It’s choice after choice and action after action that shows whether or not we truly love others.
So many times we are like the managers on those calls where we say the right thing or what we think others want to hear, but we rarely back it up. We use the right jargon and impress people with what we say, but God is looking for more than words. He’s looking at our heart. He’s watching what we do. It’s not just God who is doing that, others are too. They’re basing their idea of Christianity off of the way you and I live each day. They’re listening to our words and watching our actions and we already know which of those is louder.
One of my favorite quotes of all time came from St. Francis of Asisi. He said, “Preach at all times. Use words whenever necessary.” He understood that our lives preach what we believe more than our words ever will. What we do matters more than what we say. We don’t need to sacrifice our reputation or message for temporary acceptance. Live a lifestyle of love and let your actions do the talking for you. That’s the message of i John 3:18.