“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:11 ESV)
The old adage, “Actions speak louder than words” carries an element of truth, truth rooted in the Spirit-inspired Book of Proverbs. If Solomon heard that expression, he would agree, because in our text, the message is clear: actions speak.
Not only do they speak, actions communicate volumes. The way you and I conduct ourselves betrays who we really are, no matter what persona we might create to appear one way or another. How do you and I “make [ourselves] known by [our] acts?” We do so as a child does, through basic human experience. Sure, some may have masked themselves better than others, but at one point or another, our actions betray us.
Solomon, quite aware of this in his own life, bemoans the plight of many fools who are known by their actions. He warns his children about the sluggard (19:24, 20:4), the scoffer (19:25, 20:3), the man of violence (19:26), the stiff-necked (19:27), the false witness (19:28, 20:10), and the drunk (20:1). These foolish men are not only engaging in sinful activity, they are known by and categorized by their actions. Solomon would rather his kids – the king’s kids – were known by wise living.
Maybe you are not known by a sinful label – the village idiot, the town drunk, the cheater, the liar. But you and I are known by our acts. Our acts prove that we’re sinners. “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin?’” (20:9)
But what about the Christian, the believer whose sins are forgiven and forgotten? We to must take heed. While we’re not saved by works, nor are we kept by our works, our works do speak: they testify about who we really are – the King’s kids! Our acts prove what is already in our hearts. Our wandering eyes prove our lust, our tardiness proves our laziness, our lack of prayer proves our unbelief, our unfaithfulness proves our misplaced priorities. On the other hand, our acts speak the grace of God in our lives, as we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as evidence of God’s work in our hearts.
What do your acts say about you?