“I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)
When I worked in the legal department of a large 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 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 to whom she was assigned was not meeting the requirements for her job. Indignantly, she retorted, “I don’t serve anyone but God!”
Clearly, her actions were not living up to the words she was professing about her Christian faith. St. Anthony of Padua said, “Actions speak louder than words. Let your words teach and your actions speak. We are full of words but empty of actions.”
Bearing fruit in our lives is important to Jesus. What kind of fruit? “Fruit that will last,” says Jesus. St. Paul describes this as the fruit of the Spirit, which includes “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) I believe that faithfulness includes seeking to do our best at whatever we may be doing – our work, loving and serving our spouse and children, responding to the needs of friends, and growing in our relationship with Jesus.
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus has a very harsh response for the servant who buried the talent he had been given — a lack of action on his part. (Mt. 25:14-30) In the Parable of The Judgment of the Nations, Jesus condemns the people who did not provide food, drink, shelter, medical care and their time to individuals in need – a lack of action on their part.
Faith and love are not real until confirmed by our actions. When Jesus told someone that his or her faith had healed or saved them, it was usually the result of some affirmative action of the person exhibiting faith. For example, the woman suffering from bleeding for twelve years, fought through a crowd 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 professed faith and love real.
Do your actions attest to your faith and love?