Who was it who said, “I need a little less talk and a lot more action”? Who was it who said, “Talk is cheap”? Who says some people are “All talk, no action”? So the notion that some people want to talk about the troubles of life without putting feet to their words is a popular idea in this culture. What does the Bible say?
I’m on this topic because in times of national unrest and strife like we are seeing today (June 2020) there’s a lot of words shared on Social Media. While some rant and share news all day everyday, others disappear for a while so that they don’t have to see or hear any of the drama. Friends debate in the comments sections of their posts, some unfriending occurs, and there is a lot to be said about current events and those who report them. It’s stressful for most. I for one appreciate some of the words that are put out there as it lets me know someone thinks the way I do; I also don’t appreciate many of the decisive words that are put out there. It’s a wonder if any of this explosion of words on social media help. Many have taken the position of “Don’t say anything because it only makes things worst.” So according to the Bible, what does help and what hinders regarding words?
James 1: 19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
So I immediately thought about the first part of the verse, “slow to speak and slow to become angry” because it’s easy for me to remember and I always think of how he didn’t say we couldn’t speak or be angry but that we needed to slow it down. But then in verse 20 he makes a profound statement “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires”. Wow! That’s so important. Think about how God rewards the righteous all throughout scripture and in this verse he is telling you that our human anger does not produce the righteous that God desires. God gets angry too but it’s different from human anger that lacks self control and all knowledge and truth. Then he says to get rid of evil and accept THE WORD planted in you.
So when we are talking about the word of God, talk is NOT cheap. The word is life. But then check this out:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Okay talk can definitely be cheap. Don’t merely listen to wisdom and do nothing with it. Do what the word of God says. Then he explains that the perfect law brings freedom. Isn’t that what we want? Five years ago and again today there has been a battle on law and order that is so extreme in the natural that it must be supernatural. Verse 25 ends in a promise that “those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom” and do what they heard “will be blessed in what they do”. I want that in my life. Don’t you?
So in times like this when people are protesting on the streets and on their Facebook wall, is talk cheap? I believe according to the word that YES talk is definitely cheap if you’re not acting according to what the Word commands us to do. That is a big topic for another day because there are lots of helpful, positive directives from God’s word that can help us and those around us. If all we do is vent on social media with our “human anger” we are probably accomplishing nothing (except a few lively debates probably). But there is a time for everything including a time to speak. There are also life-giving words to speak. I am grateful when I find posts online in which someone has done their research and they unfold a ton of truth. I am grateful when someone posts a video with heartfelt encouragement, calls to do good, and truth from God’s word. I love reading. I love writing. Words matter. They matter so much that we need to know what to say, how to say it, and when to hush. Look at this next part of James 1:
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
How profound are James’ teachings from way back then? How relevant are they TODAY! I have read and appreciated this passage of scripture so many times in the past but today these words are so alive in my soul as I look at what’s going on in our nation and around the world. So we are not commanded to be all action no talk, but we are commanded to keep a “tight reign” on our tongues. Lastly he says that pure and faultless religion is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress” and to “keep from being polluted by the world”. So when you read that, what do you think you should do today about what’s going on in the world? I know what I’m going to do. First, I’m going to humble myself and pray according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. That is a key to seeing healing in our culture. Next, I’m going to spend time in the Word rather than being polluted by the world (including media). I’m going to keep my mouth and typing fingers on a tight reign to avoid speaking opinions that won’t help anyone and won’t please God. Then I’m going to write what I believe, according to the Word, is helpful, edifying, and encouraging to fellow believers so we can each let our lights shine.
Talk can be pretty cheap without action, but it can be life-breathing if used in a Godly manner. Talk can also destroy others.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Believers, don’t let your talk be cheap. Let the Word be the gauge that helps you judge how to use your words today. Somebody may need your words. Sometimes you please God with your silence. Just remember that whether you are using your words in your prayer closet or with a friend, you can ask God to help use your words to bring LIFE.