Read James 2:15-16 (ESV)
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says, to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
Why is it important that we back up our speech with our actions?
Everyone knows the expression: “Actions speak louder than words.” It sounds cliche because it gets quoted all the time. But it gets quoted all the time because it true. Think about it: You put your kid in time out because they hit their brother. Before you bring them out, you say, “Are you sorry?” and they say yes. But their true heart is exposed just five minutes later when they hit them again! Actions speak louder than words.
Imagine that your spouse says “I love you” but treats you poorly and cheats on you. No matter how much they say they love you, their actions prove otherwise. Their professed love is just a bunch of empty words.
Today, James is continuing his discussion on how works and faith go together. His argument is that works naturally flow out of someone who has a genuine faith in Christ. If these works don’t flow out of someone, what good is their faith?
When we place our faith in Jesus Christ, we become members of the household of God. As members of His household, we’ve been called to take care of each other. We are supposed to love the Lord our God and love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). We are also called to be imitators of Christ (Ephesians 5:1) who demonstrated His care for people by providing for them.
If we tell our neighbors that we care about them but then ignore them when we have a need, our actions prove otherwise. Our actions need to be consistent with our faith. Otherwise, our professed care, concern, and love is just a bunch of empty words.
Most people know that Christians are supposed to care for the poor and needy, even if they don’t know much else about Christianity. They know that Christians are supposed to love others. So if we claim to know and love Christ but fail to demonstrate that to others by providing for their needs, what message are we really sending?
John also admonished believers to love people not with empty words, but with action: But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18). If we our actions are not consistent with our words, if our lifestyle doesn’t match the faith that we proclaim, it would be good for us to ask ourselves if God’s love truly abides in us. If we have no desire to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, are we really saved?
Friends, may our faith never be just a bunch of empty words. We are the body of Christ, we are His ambassadors to a watching world. In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter said: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We have to use our words to represent Him well but we also have to back up our words with our deeds. If we don’t, what good is that? Empty words aren’t good for anything.
Lord, I want to be a great ambassador for You. I want to represent You well to the world around me. Help my words and my actions to consistently demonstrate Your love. Keep my mouth from uttering empty words. Amen.