Do Actions Really Speak Louder Than Words?

When someone tells you they’ll do something do you believe? Only to realize their words weren’t aligned with their actions. Words are cheap if you don’t back them up be actions. Our faith in others comes from whether they do what they say they will.

It’s what inside of us that comes out of us. Our behavior flows out of our hearts. And we have the power over what is inside of us. We have a choice in what we say and do.

The phrase “actions speak louder than words” has a rich history. But is it true? Do actions really speak louder than words?

The answer is both yes and no. To find out why we need to look at the history of the proverb, and what really matters to God.

The Origin Of This Phrase

This proverb dates back to the 1550’s. It began with different wording and has changed throughout time. A French writer named Michel de Montaigne said “Saying is one thing and doing is another.”

Over a century later (1668), a Englishman names J. Pym wrote a variation. That said, “A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver, and action are more precious that words.”

In 1735 A.M. Davis penned another variation saying, “Actions speak louder than words and are more to be regarded.”

Mark Twain (1835-1910) has his own version as well, He put it like this: “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”

All these forms of the proverb illustrate a stark difference between words and action, giving weight to actions.

What The Bible Says

The Bible has much to say about actions and words. In Matthew 21, Jesus uses a story to illustrate how actions speak louder than words.

Jesus’s his story is about to sons whose father told them to go and work in his vineyard. Once said no, he would not go. The other said yes. However the one who said no change his mind and went to work, the one who had said yes, did not go. Jesus and the story with a question, “which of the two did the will of his father?”

The son who said yes but did not follow through failed to love and honor his father. The Apostle John put it this way: “ my little children, let us not love with the word or with the tongue, but in deed and truth.”(1 John 3:18).

Titus delivers a stern word about actions that contradict what is said. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him“ (Titus 1:16).

This is known as hypocrisy (behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe). Hypocrisy has a smell that repels. “ your actions speak so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying” – Ralph Waldo Emerson).

James addresses this “words and actions thing” by connecting it to faith because it takes faith to obey God, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without actions is dead” (James 2:26).

When looking at these Scriptures, do you find your actions betray you at times? Of course, they will because you are human. This is where what matters to God the mold comes in.

What Matters Most To God

It may sound by what you have read so far the actions are the end all, but that isn’t true. Consider the words of Jesus regarding a certain widow’s actions and others who had the same “action.”

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watch the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people through in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put two very small copper coins, worthy only of a few cents. Calling his disciples to him Jesus said, “truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all of the others. They all gave out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty, put in everything – she at all she had to live on” (Mark 12:41-44).

Both gave offerings but instead of the action being the focus, Jesus saw him through the widow’s heart, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Paul instruct us to swing into the Lord and everything we do and say, “And whatever you do, and work or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” ( Colossians 3:17).

John reveals the heart of the matter I would love being in a person.

If someone has enough money to live well and see if his brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children , let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3: 17-18).

Jesus said is what’s on the inside that comes out of us. This means our behavior flows out of our hearts. And he also states that we have the power over what is inside us – we have a choice.

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