Do Actions Speak Louder Than Words?
by Patti Greene, Greene Pastures by Patti[From Email notifications, click the title for best web viewing]
Have you ever tried to share your Christian beliefs with someone, and feel you couldn’t get through to them—no matter what you say? They adamantly refuse to hear anything about God or religion. Their callousness might be foreign to you, and even scare you to the point of being fearful of ever talking to them again.
It happens all the time. We may be genuinely interested in a person’s spiritual well-being, and it breaks our heart when we are ignored, criticized, or made fun of for our beliefs just because we try to talk to them about God.
Many reasons abound as to why some people do not have an interest in hearing about God. Maybe it is because they don’t see us living out the Christian life. Maybe it is because they have encountered negative experiences within the church or with Christians. Or, maybe, it is because they have made a conscious decision to avoid all conversations about God or the Bible.
Many times, our mere words cannot express our feelings, thoughts, and beliefs as well as our actions can. If you find your talking gets you nowhere, God may be leading you to switch over to using actions instead of words to show your love to others.
God Uses Our Actions
God used Ezekiel in a “different way” to fulfill his calling in the beginning of his ministry.
In the first half of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel, we see Ezekiel using actions solely (instead of words) to convey God’s message to the people. The Israelite exiles in Babylon became so desensitized and hard-hearted they would not listen to the word of God being proclaimed by the true prophets. So God commanded Ezekiel to take a different approach—an action approach.
God was so serious about using Ezekiel’s actions to communicate His words that He shut Ezekiel’s mouth for a period of seven years, allowing Ezekiel to speak only when and what he was commanded.
Instead of talking, Ezekiel was called to use what author Warren Wiersbe calls “action sermons”. The people had been warned verbally about their sinful behavior over and over to no avail. But now it was time for actions to take over. Many times, our actions can be what causes people to listen to us.
In Ezekiel 4, God commanded Ezekiel to: write on brick, put up an iron wall, prepare food, and to lay on both his left and right side to show what He wanted to get across to the exiles who had become isolated and distant from God.
Ezekiel sketched a map of Jerusalem on a brick and began playing soldier with the brick to show the House of Israel that the city of Jerusalem would be seized by the Babylonian army. He was then commanded by God to lie on the ground on his left side facing his brick for 390 days and then 40 days on his right side. Many commentaries use these mathematical calculations to show the years of Israel’s past sins and the years that Israel spent in the wilderness with Moses.
This kind of symbolism continues as Ezekiel continues acting out the horror and devastation of what was to come to Jerusalem. Later, the Lord asked Ezekiel to mix 3 different grains and 2 vegetables together to make bread. Scarcity of food was upcoming and Ezekiel was called to caution the people what was to come upon Jerusalem. The people had been warned of their heresy and separation from God with words before, but now God has chosen Ezekiel to use symbols and actions to show His disgust with their disobedience.
Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel. “As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it. Now behold, I will put ropes on you so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege. “But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days (Ezekiel 4:1-9).
Have you ever thought maybe we have talked too much—sometimes until we are blue in our collective face—trying to get God’s message into the hearts of our friends, family or acquaintances?
Maybe it is time to try “action sermons!”
Through our actions sermons, people may see something different in us that will lead to a discussion on our faith. We may even be privileged to share in the joy of their salvation.
While God uses our actions, He is also quite capable and willing to use our speech and words to convey His intended will and plans.
God Uses Our Words
But, God also uses words. Later on in the Book of Ezekiel, God opened Ezekiel’s mouth so he could be a verbal witness in declaring the future prophecies of Jerusalem.
While God may not call us to do weird and strange “action” things like he called Ezekiel to do when he prophesized the unfortunate events awaiting Jerusalem, He may call us to show God’s love to others through a kind word, a meal, a note, or a smile. So I am not saying we should never use words to minister.
Writer Will Maule says it best in his recent article titled “22 Things Christians Need to Stop Doing…Now!”
He states, “It’s just as important to represent Jesus by how we live, but someone can’t respond to the Good News without hearing it . . . and they can’t hear it if no one opens their mouths (Matt 10:27, Romans 10:14-15).” ¹
In my life, I have come to believe that unless what we say agrees with what we do, what we say is meaningless to most people.
God Uses Our Actions and Words
In an ongoing survey, people were asked if people were known by their actions or their words. The result was that 57% believe people are known by their actions and 43% believe that actions do not speak louder than words. ²
This discrepancy leans more to the belief that actions speak louder than words. The Bible is full of verses that discuss the importance of our actions. For example:
- Being doers of the word (James 1:22)
- Acting in deed and truth (1 John 3:18)
- Letting your light shine, so others may see your good works (Matthew 5:16)
- Having faith by itself, without works, is dead (James 2:17)
But these verses do not overpower the fact that God also uses our speech to minister, guide, encourage, and love others. Without the powerful words of Old Testament prophets, the people would not know God’s laws and His plans. Without the convicting words from the New Testament apostles, people would not know the plan of salvation and sanctification.
Be open this week to His will in all you DO and SAY. Don’t be afraid to step out and do something “different” if you feel God impressing you to do so. If your motives are right, and it ends up not what God had in mind, He will fix it and make it right. Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone to grow, mature, and be obedient, whether in our words or actions. Being obedient to whatever God impresses upon us to do is the key. Both words and actions are important!
Patti Greene, Member Inspirational Writers Alive
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. John 10:25
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
Dear Lord, thank you for the opportunities You give me to share my life with others. Give me wisdom and understanding regarding the best way to approach people with Your truths. You are a God I can trust to lead me in the paths of righteousness. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
¹ Maule, Will. “22 Things Christians Need to Stop Doing…Now!” Hello Christian. http://hellochristian.com. Accessed 17 Feb 2017.
² “Do actions speak louder than words?” The Premier Online Debate Website. Debate.org. N.p., 21 Feb. 2017. Web. 21 Feb. 2017 <http://www.debate.org/>.
Edited by E. Johnson; Image Permission from J. Morisho 2-18-2017. Bible Verses from NASB.
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Books by Patti Greene
A 90-day devotional prayer journal for all ages; This informative and how-to book on prayer is for seekers, new believers, and mature believers. It encourages a commitment and devotion to the art of prayer. Learn how God reveals himself through Bible study and prayer. ISBN: 978-1512760453 (Paperback) $11.95 on Amazon.
A 365-day devotional prayer journal for in-depth Bible study; Fun words or phrases from the Old and New Testaments! Perfect for mature believers. ISBN: 978-1490893181 (Paperback) $27.95 on Amazon.
A 181-day devotional prayer journal for growing individuals; The Bible and social issues. Perfect for new believers. Comes with a group study guide. ISBN: 978-1490893174 (Paperback) $19.95 on Amazon.