1 John 3:18 KJV
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
In this lesson, we will re-visit how important a person's actions and deeds truly are. In a prior lesson we noted that "words are cheap" but actions don't lie.
We have all heard the expression, “actions speak louder than words” and many have experienced its reality in a negative form.
I’m sure that many of us have been fooled or “taken to the cleaners” in some form in our lives.
From unethical salespeople, to connivers, to panhandlers, to boasters, to supposed workers for Christ, we see that words are the primary tool of their trade. And they know how to use them.
We could be talking about 8 of 10 members of local service clubs who say they will be there to help out with projects, but never show up. Or the unethical salesperson who knows their product and service do not match up with their words but give their successful pitch anyway. Or, the conniver and crook who wins someone’s trust, only to steal from them. Or the one who proclaims Christ as Lord, but lives a totally different life, outside of God’s will.
Remember those televangelists who were the exact opposite of what they professed? Some even went to prison for their fraudulent actions. They fooled thousands, if not millions of people because they had the right words and knew how to effectively deliver them.
This type of person has been around from the very beginning, and they continue to practice their “trade” gaining the trust of many.
So, we ask, what does this have to do with us?
WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING
First, we must always beware of “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
There are those in the world who try to gain the trust of others for devious means and personal gain. We should always be on guard for these.
Sadly, there are also those who convincingly proclaim to be followers of Christ, but are in fact “ravening wolves.” They are the vilest of imposters.
Jesus warns us to beware of those who appear to be Christians, but inside they are nothing but ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:15-17 KJV
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Jesus is referring to those who claim to be followers of Jesus, whether laypeople, gospel singers, teachers, pastors or evangelists.
There are many who unfortunately find “the church of Christ” to be a lucrative field and are only concerned with “fleecing the flock” while appearing to “tend the flock.”
Some even intend to mislead the flock with false teaching.
Think it doesn’t happen much?
It does and this is why Jesus gave us the warning from His own mouth.
Peter also warned us in the following verses.
2 Peter 2:1-3 KJV
1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of (bring the way of truth into disrepute).
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you (exploit you): whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
The key thing to remember is to always be on guard. Don’t simply rely on words.
Jesus tells us in the scripture above, that “we shall know them by their fruits.”
He doesn’t say we will know them by their words, but by their fruits. By their actions, deeds, and results. We need to be vigilant and aware as we partake in “fruit inspection.”
WHAT DO OTHERS SEE IN OUR LIVES?
Secondly, and most importantly, we need to make sure that all of our actions and deeds match our words as followers of Jesus.
If we live each day practicing the “Golden Rule” we are presenting to those we come in contact with, a living illustration of the teachings of Jesus.
Luke 6:31-32 KJV
31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32 For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
If our actions and deeds present the teachings of Jesus, we become a snapshot in time, of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This is our witness and may help lead others to Christ.
If our actions and deeds portray something else, this is the snapshot in time that we present and unfortunately will be remembered.
There is another old expression that says “a picture is worth a thousand words” and it is absolutely true.
What people see and observe us doing, speaks volumes.
It either validates our profession of faith and words, or it indicates that we are not what we profess to be.
In closing, we must be on guard to not be fooled by wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Then, we must make sure that our actions and deeds validate our profession of faith.
As we have often heard, actions speak louder than words and a picture is worth a thousand of them.
Let us often ask ourselves these questions;
What do our actions portray? What do others see?
For more on this subject, see the lesson titled, “By OUR Fruits They Shall Know US” under the Spiritual Growth tab.