Defining faith: Actions speak so much louder than words
Contrary to what some people — such as those who’ve watched the musical “Annie” a few too many times — believe, many kids when adopted aren’t able to express their feelings all that well. There typically isn’t an opening floodgate where the child showers his/her new family with love, adoration and gratitude. The bonds of trust take time. The feelings and emotions can be guarded for quite a while. And that can be a hard pill to swallow for adoptive parents after all the hoop-jumping and i-dotting it can take to finalize an adoption.
For our son, who dealt with a slew of tough breaks growing up, saying “I love you” was especially challenging. There were times my wife and I wondered if we’d ever hear that simple three-word phrase.
Late one fall, our son started spending a lot of extra time in a small shed behind the garage. After a little time, he let me in on the secret. He was building mom a bookshelf as a Christmas gift. He literally spent hours on it, put his own money into supplies and didn’t cut corners as he assembled it and added the finishing touches.
My wife and I got the message loud and clear. The bookshelf was his “I love you.” The actions behind his gift were much more powerful than simply saying the phrase we so longed to hear.
For some reason, this memory popped into my mind during a recent Bible study of the book of James. Specifically in chapter 2 concerning faith and deeds. As the NIV version of James 2:14-17 states:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
In my opinion, it comes across like a man in a marriage who says “I love you” to his wife numerous times a day, but does nothing to show her his love. A surprise bouquet of flowers. An impromptu date night. A back rub after the kids are in bed. Actions like that speak much louder than words.
Is this the type of thing God is getting at in this portion of the book of James? How many times we can tell God we believe in Him before we need to show it? Our faith is nothing by itself — it takes physical action to show God and show others we truly mean business. It is much like our son’s efforts with the bookshelf — his actions most definitely spoke louder than words.
Which brings me to the music video I shared from Matthew West titled “Do Something.” It is a song that has been on the radio a number of times, and is much more than a catchy tune. It challenges us to break out of mold a little. The hustle and bustle of life can sometimes leave us in a fog — doing the bare necessities to survive, but nothing else. I know because I find myself in this state at times. Songs like “Do Something” can get my blood pumping. It challenges me to step out of the mundane and be both salt and light, as suggested by Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV):
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
God gave us amazing talents and abilities — talents He wants us to use to spread His word and show, not simply tell, others what it means to be a true Christian.
For me, that means spending more time writing. It means making a conscious effort to eliminate some of the distractions of life and the excuses that can derail even the best of intentions.
In short, it is time to do something.