Do your actions attest to your faith?
When I worked in the legal department of a large international oil company we had an administrative assistant who was quite vocal about her Christian faith. Her conversation was filled with references to her Christian beliefs and opinions on a variety of subjects.
Her job performance in providing administrative assistance to three attorneys, however, fell short of the expectations for her position. It fell to me to counsel her about her performance. I will never forget her response when I pointed out that her work in serving the three attorneys assigned to her was not meeting the requirements for her job. Indignantly, she declared, “I don’t serve anyone but God!
St. Anthony of Padua said, “Let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions, and therefore, are cursed by the Lord, since he himself cursed the fig tree when he found no fruit, but only leaves.”
Bearing fruit in our lives is important to Jesus. He said, “I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16) What kind of fruit? St. Paul sets out in Galatians 5:22-23 what he describes as the fruit of the spirit – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I believe that faithfulness also includes seeking to do our best.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus is very harsh with the servant who buried the talent he had been given instead of investing and multiplying it — a lack of action. In the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, Jesus condemns the people who did not provide food, drink, shelter, medical care and their time to individuals in need – a lack of action.
We have all heard the line, “actions speak louder than words.” This is particularly true when it comes to faith and love. Faith and love are not real until confirmed by our actions. When Jesus told someone that his or her faith had healed them, it was usually preceded by some affirmative action of the person exhibiting their faith. (The woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, saying, “If only I can touch his cloak.” [Mt. 9:22])
This is not about whether salvation comes from faith or works. This is about whether our actions make our faith and love real.
Scripture tells us that God is love. Being omnipotent, God can of course exhibit that love through consolation in prayer or in any number of ways. Oftentimes, his way is to use us in bringing that love to others.