A group of kindergartners was trying to become accustomed to the first grade. The biggest hurdle they faced was that the teacher insisted on no baby talk "You need to use big people' words," she'd always remind them. She asked Chris what he had done over the weekend. "I went to visit my Nana," he said. "No, you went to visit your GRANDMOTHER. Use big people words!" She then asked Michael what he had done. "I took a ride on a choo-choo," he replied. She said "No, you took a ride on a TRAIN. Use big people words." She then asked Ron what he had done. "I read a book," he replied. "That's WONDERFUL!" the teacher said. "What book did you read?" Ron thought about it, hesitated and said, “It is not a big people word. I am sorry. Something called, "Winnie the POOH."
Words, words, words. They have the power to create, incite, encourage, motivate, inspire, divide, connect, effect, change.
We hear them. We say them. We communicate with them. They are written in the Bible. They are proclaimed in churches. They are shared in homes. Without them, there are no text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and Sunday bulletins.
Words are not enough, however. Jesus says we need to act on them, practice what we preach, and do what we believe.
The proof of the sincerity of our faith lies in the practice of it. Faith without works is dead, according to the apostle James. It is only when we walk the walk and talk the talk that we inherit God’s kingdom. It is only when we help each other in words and deeds that we attain our heavenly promise.
When our actions betray our words, there is no true knowledge of God nor will God know us. When we do not follow through with what we believe in, there is no recognition of God nor will God recognize us. When faith and believing is just confined to church buildings where we worship, then there is ignorance of Christ’s message and example.
A priest and a soap maker went for a walk one day at the park on a warm summer day. The soap maker suddenly turned to the priest and said to him, “Father, what good is religion? Look at all the trouble and misery that exists in the world! There is still such sin and sadness, even after so many years of teaching and preaching about goodness and truth and peace. If religion is good and true, why should this be?”
The priest said nothing. They continued walking until they happened to see a child playing in the dirt. The priest said to the soap maker, “Look at that child. You say that soaps make people clean, but see the dirt on that boy. Of what good is soap? With all the soap in the world, over all these years, the child is still filthy. I wonder how effective soap is after all!”
The soap maker protested and exclaimed to the priest; ‘But Father, soap cannot do anything unless it is used.” With a nod the priest said, “Exactly.”
Jesus is making the same point the priest made to the soap maker, namely that faith requires action. For faith to be relevant and religion to be meaningful in our lives, it has to be used like soap.
There are so many manifestations, revelations and opportunities to do that. Each day God reveals himself to us through the deeds and actions of people around us. Each day God shows himself to us in different ways and means of love. Each day God manifests himself to us that we may build a strong base and foundation in faith, hope and love sustaining us through the storms that will come our way.
Actions speak more than words in faith when we see things that are not visible. Actions speak more than words in hope when we believe in the promise yet to be attained. And actions speak more than words in love when we do the will of God.