Talk vs. Action

Things probably did not go as planned for Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

  • He probably did not intend on having to try and explain to his friends and family why his fiancée was pregnant even though they had not slept together.
  • He probably did not plan on marrying her anyway, but having to put off the honeymoon for a few months.
  • He probably did not plan to pick up his new family and move them to a foreign country for an unknown period of time.
  • He probably did not intend to move to Galilee upon his return from Egypt instead of going back to his old home in Judea.

Yet through all of this, there is no record of Joseph ever complaining. And while he might have had a reason to brag after going through all of those things on behalf of the baby Jesus, there is no record of him bragging either.

Actually, there is no record of Joseph saying anything. At all. Apparently Joseph was a man who demonstrated his faith and his righteousness primarily through actions instead of just words.

These days we have a saying that someone is “all bark and no bite,” or “all talk and no action.” But for Joseph, a better description would have been “all action and no talk.” His words appear to have been few, but his behavior was honorable in every way.

How do we respond when we encounter various unplanned or difficult scenarios? Do we spend our efforts complaining, or do we let our actions do the talking by behaving in a way that is honorable despite the difficulty of the situation?

Consider this passage from James 1:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”

Joseph was a prime example of one who was quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. He was also a prompt doer of God’s will as opposed to someone who likes to talk a lot about how things ought to be without actually living how he ought to live.

Whether or not anyone notices, and whether or not the situation is exactly how you have always wanted it to be, will you be a doer of righteousness simply because it is the right thing to do?

Are you a Faithful Christian?

In Revelation 2:10, Jesus tells Christians: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Christians have adopted this concept into our understanding of salvation, and rightly so.  The implication of the verse is that if we are NOT faithful until death, then we will NOT receive the crown of life.  It follows that remaining faithful is part of the salvation process.

But what does it mean to “be faithful until death?” 

I ask because in many cases I’m afraid our concept of “being faithful” has shrunk down to the concept of “coming to church at least occasionally.”  After all, if a baptized believer comes to church regularly, though we know nothing else about them, we may say, “they are a faithful Christian.”  Likewise, when a brother or sister who has been attending ceases to show up on Sunday morning, we say “they used to be faithful, but they have fallen away.”

Please do not misunderstand my point, church attendance is extremely important.  In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are instructed to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.”

In addition to this clear Biblical instruction not to forsake the assembly, there is also the fundamental question: why on earth would a member of the body of Christ not yearn with everything that is in them to be encouraged by their brethren, worship their creator, and partake of the Lord’s Supper?  There are certainly situations in which the basic need to provide for the family, or physically debilitating conditions, make regular attendance impossible, and I do not intend to undermine those situations.  Nevertheless, church attendance is important.

But with the importance of church attendance established, let me caution us against assuming that it is the only important factor in “being faithful.” 
Biblical faith is trusting and obeying God unconditionally.  Being unfaithful, then, can manifest itself in any outward disobedient activity that results from a lack of trust.

  • Jesus did not say “if you don’t go to church enough” but rather “”if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:15)
  • Jesus did not say “whoever doesn’t attend worship”, but “whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33)
  • Jesus did not merely say “he who warmed the pew at least 50% of the time will enter the kingdom of heaven” but “only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
  • Jesus taught that people will be excluded from God’s eternal presence not because “they slept in on Sunday morning” but because “to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.” (Matthew 25:45)

God requires not merely an hour from you on Sunday, but your very heart and soul.  By God’s grace may we be reunited some day in heaven, having been faithful until death.

Church Pew