Sunday In The Octave Of Christmas: Actions Speak Louder Then Words


Yesterday, as I meditated on the subject of the epistle reading for the day, I was so taken with the importance of our actions being a testimony to those around us, that I felt a desire to speak on it on this Sunday instead of the epistle readings for today.

The Epistle readings come form Titus chapter three verses four through seven:

But when the goodness and kindness of God our Saviour appeared:

Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost;

Whom he hath poured forth upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour:

That, being justified by his grace, we may be heirs, according to hope of life everlasting.

Research experts tell us we communicate only 7 percent with our words, 38 percent with our tone of voice, and 58 percent with our actions. This is why Paul emphasizes the word deeds to the young Bishop Titus.

In the epistle readings we are getting from the apostle Paul the last of the pastoral letters. His emphasis to Titus in chapter 3, and really throughout the entire Epistle, is focused on the 58 percent. I imagine Paul feels like Benjamin Franklin who said, “Well done is much better than well said.” Basically, it is better to be a good doer than a good talker. 

John Donne said: “Of all the commentaries on the Scriptures, good examples are the best.” Another word for example in the book of Titus is good deeds. The apostle Paul is really careful to tell us it’s not the works of justice that make us Christians and get us to heaven: “Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5).

But it is works of justice that should be coming from God’s people. He wants us to know that though we are not saved by works of justice, we pursue works of justice because they are the outflow of the work of God in our lives: 

“Admonish them to be subject to princes and powers, to obey at a word, to be ready to every good work. . . . It is a faithful saying: and these things I will have thee affirm constantly: that they, who believe in God, may be careful to excel in good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.” (Verses 1, 8)

Careful to excel in good works. Then he repeats in verse 14: “And let our men also learn to excel in good works for necessary uses: that they be not unfruitful.” Again, he encourages us to engage in good works.

But these exhortations are not limited to Titus 3. In Titus 1:16, Paul tells Titus about people who know how to talk but not live: “They profess that they know God: but in their works they deny him; being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.” Or as one person put it, “Your theology is what you are when the talking stops and the action starts.”

Then Paul speaks about good deeds in chapter 2, two more times: “In all things shew thyself an example of good works, in doctrine, in integrity, in gravity, in sincerity. . . . Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works.” (verses 7, 14).

Pursuer of good works.

It seems like “good works” is the emphasis Paul is giving to Titus: Titus, let your people show their Christianity, not just speak it. You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.

Our challenge is to live what we say. People will see with their eyes before they will listen with their ears. Our actions can bring someone closer to Jesus or be the very thing that turns them from Jesus.

Too many of us have a Christian vocabulary rather than a Christian experience. We think we are doing our duty when we’re only talking about it. People may doubt what we say but they will believe what we do.

As a well known British evangelist that I grew up reading about, once quipped, “There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, but most people never read the first four.”