“Actions speak louder than words.”
A little thought to the subject makes it quickly obvious that our lives speak through our attitudes and actions even more than by the use of words. Last month we looked at what it means for Christians to be “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), but verbally proclaiming truth is not enough. After all, anyone can say anything and claim it’s the truth, no matter how far removed it is from reality. The fact of the matter is, though, that truthful speech exposes, expresses, and conveys reality, but it does not create reality – unless you’re Elohim (Genesis 1)! Therefore, it is essential that Christians not only speak the truth with words, but also live the truth. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25) A “doer of the work” (and “of the word”) is blessed because he is not deceived through forgetfulness or neglect of truth, but is actively engaged in the reality of the “perfect law of liberty”; that is, living in the freedom of his spiritual life in Christ (Romans 8:2). “But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” (Luke 6:46-49) Notice that there is stability and security in stormy times only when our foundation is built upon living (doing) what God says.
At this point you may be thinking, ‘Wait a minute! Those scriptures refer to hearing God’s Word, not speaking it,’ and you’re right. But I submit to you that God’s eternal Word is triune in nature, reflecting the Holy Trinity: each aspect different and distinct, yet an essential and interconnected part of a glorious whole. God IS the Father, the Son, AND the Holy Spirit – Three in One. It is impossible for a Christian to ‘have’ only ‘part’ of God! So although we speak of ‘coming to the Father,’ ‘being in Christ,’ and having the ‘indwelling of the Holy Spirit’ as separate experiences or relationships, in reality the completeness of God is involved in each and in all of our interactions with Him. (For example, the Father and the Son also abide with everyone who obeys/lives by God’s Word – John 14:23.) I suspect there is a similarity (albeit, a limited one) with regards to God’s Word. Could not hearing, speaking, and doing what God says be merely different expressions or aspects of one grand and glorious trinity that is His Truth? Although we dissect them into separate actions, 1)hearing and 2)speaking and 3)living God’s Word should be a fundamental and integrated whole in the life of every Christian. When and where that is not the case, then we are carnal in that affected area, quenching the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:14-22).
So how does one go about living truth? Obviously, it involves living by the Word of God. 1)“Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) “Order my steps according to Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” (Psalm 119:133) God’s Word is both the measuring stick of our attitudes and actions, and the delivery vehicle God uses to direct our personal lives. Our actions are to line up with Biblical principles, so we are obedient to what God says. In this way there is both a general adherence to Biblical truth, as well as the specific application of it in our daily lives. This is because the Word of God is not only universally and unchangeably true (Psalm 119:89,151b,152,160), but it is also personally real and applicable (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And contrary to what the world and the devil tell us, living by the truth of God’s Word, rather than being restrictive, actually results in our liberation! “If you abide in My word, …you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31) Note, we need to “abide” in God’s Word, that is, DAILY ingest (hear/read) and digest (meditate on and apply) it. If you are of the opinion that living by the Word of God would be boring or oppressive, tedious or unbearable, read Psalm 119!
Living truth also means looking like and proclaiming 2)Jesus, who is the truth (John 14:6). Jesus is our example. He always heard and spoke God the Father’s word (John 8:26b, 12:49,50b, 17:8a), and He was always obedient to do what His Father said (Philippians 2:8). Furthermore, Jesus is the Living Word: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) God spoke this Word to mankind: “God…has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” (literally, “spoken Sonish” – that is, Jesus is the language God spoke! – Hebrews 1:1-2). “…truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) The fact, reality, and integrity of God were manifested through the Person of Jesus Christ, His words and His life, especially when He walked the earth in human form. Now the truth of God is primarily revealed in the world through Christ’s Body the Church: by speaking God’s Word verbally and through our lives. But for Christians to genuinely and consistently reflect Jesus (thus rightly representing God in speaking truth), it must BE Jesus who is living through us. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20).
So how does this reality of Christ living through us play out in our everyday lives? As Paul also wrote, we have been “…created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Here again we have doing/living as God directs us, and He teaches, guides, and empowers us by His Holy Spirit. So living the truth also equates to being led by God’s Spirit. “However, when He, 3)the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). While this process begins with having a mental knowledge of the truth through exposure to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit draws us into a vital, active, and increasingly intimate fellowship with God, which changes us more and more into His image. “But we all…beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image…by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) This is not only living truth, but truly living!! This enables us to walk in the very character and nature of God, which is love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7,8) Thus, living according to the truth (hearing God’s Word), living in the truth (proclaiming Jesus Christ), and living by the truth (empowered by the Holy Spirit) will result in a life of love.
No doubt John, the beloved apostle (John 13:23), expressed the very heart of God when he wrote: “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 3,4)