Actions speak louder than words. We’ve all heard this common saying, but what does the Bible have to say about it? As Christians, God calls us to align both our words and actions with His will. Our outward actions should demonstrate the faith we profess inwardly.
Though the exact phrase “actions speak louder than words” is not found in Scripture, there are many verses that communicate this truth. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the biblical basis for the principle that actions speak louder than words.
As Christians, we know that our faith calls us to more than just intellectual assent or verbal profession. Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of His day, calling them “whitewashed tombs” who appeared righteous outwardly but were full of hypocrisy and wickedness within (Matthew 23:27). James, the brother of Jesus, wrote that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Paul instructed believers to be doers of the word, not hearers only (James 1:22).
The Bible makes it clear that our actions must align with our stated beliefs. Our walk should match our talk. When there is incongruity between a person’s words and actions, their actions reveal their true convictions. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.
- The Bible condemns hypocrisy and empty religious ritual not backed up by righteous living.
- True, living faith produces fruit in the form of righteous actions and obedience to God’s commands.
- Our outward actions and lifestyle either validate or contradict what we profess to believe inwardly.
- When our walk does not match our talk, our actions speak louder than our words.
- As Christians, we are called to back up what we say we believe with a life of practical righteousness by the power of the Spirit.
In the rest of this post, we will explore several key biblical principles that support the idea that our actions speak louder than our words as followers of Christ.
Our Words and Actions Should Align
One of the clearest biblical themes is the call for our profession of faith and our practical actions to align. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for talking the talk without walking the walk.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23)
The Pharisees appeared holy and righteous on the outside by tithing even insignificant herbs like mint, dill, and cumin. However, Jesus condemned them because they neglected the deeper matters of God’s law like justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Their outward religious actions did not match their inner unrighteousness.
In another example, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of those who honor the prophets with their words but do not follow their example in their actions:
“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs.” (Luke 11:47-48)
Jesus called out the religious leaders for pretending to honor the prophets while perpetuating the same sins of their forefathers who killed the prophets. Their actions did not match their words.
The apostle John wrote that those who claim to love God while hating their brother are liars:
“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
Our love for others is a truer demonstration of our love for God than mere verbal profession. When our actions toward others contradict our words about loving God, our actions reveal the truth.
These examples demonstrate that our outward conduct should match what we profess to believe inwardly. When there is discrepancy between the two, our actions speak louder than words.
True Faith Produces Action
The Bible makes clear that genuine, living faith necessarily produces fruit in the form of righteous conduct and obedience to God. Words alone are not enough. James wrote:
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:18-20)
Mere intellectual assent to the truth of God’s existence is not true biblical faith. As James points out, even the demons know God exists! True faith is accompanied by actions of obedience to the commands of Scripture.
James goes on to illustrate his point through the examples of Abraham and Rahab, whose faith was demonstrated through works:
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? … You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:21-22, 24-26)
Biblical faith always manifests itself in obedient action. Good works naturally flow from genuine faith as the Holy Spirit empowers believers to follow God’s commands and bear the fruit of righteousness.
The Apostle Paul taught that true faith expresses itself through love:
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
Mere outward religious ritual like circumcision is worthless without faith expressing itself in love for others. In examining our faith, we must look beyond surface-level professions of belief to how our faith is demonstrated through loving actions.
When our profession of faith in Christ does not translate into a life characterized by obedience, righteousness, and love, our actions misrepresent what we claim to believe. Actions speak louder than words.
Hypocrisy Contradicts Our Witness
One reason it is so important for our actions to align with our words is that hypocrisy undermines our witness for Christ. When there is incongruity between what we say we believe and how we live, it damages our gospel witness before others.
Jesus warned against hypocrisy for this very reason:
”Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4)
Our actions must be motivated by a desire to honor God rather than gain the approval of others. Hypocritical, outward displays of righteousness that do not flow from genuine faith only bring glory to self rather than God.
In instructing believers how to live before an unbelieving world, Peter exhorted:
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)
When unbelievers observe the godly, upright actions of believers, it causes them to glorify God. But hypocrisy undercuts that witness. That’s why it’s so vital for our actions to align with what we profess to believe.
Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to avoid hypocrisy and truly reflect Christ to the world:
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
When believers live out the truth they profess, it builds up the body of Christ and effectively displays Christ to the watching world. Our actions must match our words.
The biblical principle that actions speak louder than words reflects the importance of living out our faith with integrity. Hypocrisy undermines our witness. That’s why our walk should match our talk as followers of Jesus.
We Will Be Judged By Our Actions
One of the clearest principles throughout Scripture is that God will judge us based on our deeds, not merely our words. Time and again, the Bible affirms that our actions reflect the true state of our heart and faith.
In declaring woes upon the Pharisees, Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Though the Pharisees appeared righteous because of their precise tithing and public displays of piety, their inner corruption was exposed by their lack of justice, mercy and faithfulness. They could not hide their hypocrisy from the piercing gaze of Christ.
The prophet Samuel declared to King Saul:
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” (1 Samuel 15:22)
External religious rituals meant nothing to God compared to Saul’s obedience. Saul’s actions revealed his true heart of rebellion and disobedience.
In His sermon on the mount, Jesus warned against relying on merely external righteousness:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Mere profession of Jesus as Lord is not enough. Entrance into heaven requires doing the will of God and obeying His commands. Once again, actions speak louder than words when it comes to true saving faith.
The Bible repeatedly affirms that on judgment day, God “will render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6; see also Matt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:12-13). We cannot hide our true convictions from the Lord. Our deeds will either confirm or contradict our professed faith when we stand before God. In that sense, actions do indeed speak louder than words.
Our Words Should Build Up
While our actions speak loudly about who we truly are, our words still carry great importance. Jesus said “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36).
As believers, we must be careful to speak words that build up others and glorify Christ. Our speech should confirm what our actions display. Paul wrote:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Because our tongues have immense power, we must bridle them to avoid hypocrisy and align our speech with our practice.
“For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.” (James 3:2-5)
Our tongues guide the direction of our lives. Though small, what we say impacts many others, for good or ill. As Christians, we must take every care to speak words that correspond to a life of godliness and faith, not hypocrisy.
Even as our chief aim is to live righteously before others, our speech still impacts our witness. Paul wrote:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
Our words should reflect the grace and wisdom of Christ to draw others to Him. Through aligning our speech and actions under the guidance of Scripture, we can avoid hypocrisy and make the best use of the time God gives us.
In summary, the common saying that “actions speak louder than words” closely aligns with the teachings of Scripture. As followers of Christ, our outward conduct should match what we profess to believe inwardly. Our deeds will be the evidence that either confirms or denies the genuineness of our faith. Though our tongues have power, we must speak words that build others up and point them toward Christ. When our walk matches our talk, our actions and speech will proclaim the goodness of God and the transforming power of the gospel. May we all strive for greater integrity between profession and practice as we shine the light of Christ to the world.