It has been said that actions speak louder than words. Our actions should be consistent with - should support - our words. In Acts 1:1 Luke states that he had in his gospel written about “all things which Jesus began both to do and to teach”. Note that the “doing” is mentioned before the teaching. John writes in his first epistle about what we say and what we do. He challenges mere profession. “Children, let us not love with word, nor with tongue, but in deed and in truth”, 1 John 3:18. James tells us that faith without works is dead. I am of the opinion that we do not really believe something until we act accordingly. I may assent to something in the mind, but until I act on it, I don’t think that it can be said that I believe it.
Of course Christ is the model for all right action. It is recorded in the Psalms and in Hebrews 10, “Lo I come… to do thy will”. That should be our guiding principle. It does not mean that we all have to do great things, where “great” is measured by human standards. Let us do the things that are to hand; let us do them with grace. Then they can become great things. Does a sick person need some errands performed? Would a lonely person appreciate a visit?
The way that we do things is also important. A right thing done in a bad spirit can ruin the good thing. It says of the Lord in Mark 7:37, “He does all things well”. The Lord made serving honourable. “The Son of man did not come not to be served, but to serve, and to give himself a ransom for many”, Matthew 20:28. Serving is angels’ work; they are described as ministering servants.
What we do, and how we do it, is vitally important in our employment. Colossians 3:22, “Bondmen, obey in all things your masters according to flesh; not with eye service as men-pleasers, but in simplicity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatsoever ye do, labour at it heartily [literally, ‘from the soul’], as doing it to the Lord, and not to men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance; ye serve the Lord Christ”. Even the most ordinary routines in life can become meaningful to a Christian, as he realizes that he is doing it unto the Lord – he is serving the Lord, not just a worldly master. It is of note that many persons were taken up for special service from their secular work. Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel and Amos; four apostles were doing fishermen tasks when called and Matthew was called from his tax office.
Our actions in the home are also significant. Again, in both Ephesians and Colossians we get exhortations as to conduct suited to wives and husbands, children and fathers, before we get that for bondmen and masters.
Then we have the Lord’s judicial review of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. In five of these, his first words are: “I know thy works”. He says of Laodicea that their works showed that they were neither hot nor cold – they were lukewarm. That condition is nauseous to Christ. Is that a prophetic reference to our times, in the western world?
Hannah noted in her prayer in 1 Samuel 2:3, “For the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed”. Although God knows the thoughts and motives, it is works that are judged. This is clearly stated in Revelation 12,13 and elsewhere. Why judge works and not thoughts and motives? So that all - men, angels and demons - will have to acknowledge that God is just. In the context of judgment, “works” includes both words and actions. May we be like the overcomer in Thyatira: “He that overcomes, and he that keeps unto the end my works, to him will I give authority over the nations, and he shall shepherd them with an iron rod… and I will give to him the morning star”, Revelation 2:26-28.
MM September 2007