As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”, and so it is. One may promise or profess innumerable things, but if not followed by the corresponding actions, the words are meaningless. Jesus made application of this truth.
Soon after cleansing the temple, the chief priests and elders challenged His authority to do such a thing. In that setting Jesus shared the following parable. “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” Matthew 21:28-31.
The Jewish leadership was hung up with externals – the reciting of prayers and doing of ceremonies to appear pious while living in direct disobedience to God’s law of love. Jesus’ perfect life of obedience, while the strongest evidence of His authority, was a constant rebuke to these leaders who made great professions but refused heart allegiance to God.
By contrast, there were many from among the “publicans and harlots” who, though initially living a life of open sinfulness, responded to the message of the gospel. They showed true repentance and change of life. What truly shows our sincerity of heart is not the words we speak, but our deeds. In Matthew 7:21 we’re told “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Whether harboring a clearly evident sin or one unseen by others, as long as we cling to it, we are as the son who spoke empty words. He did not have corresponding actions. Certainly our good works will never purchase God’s love or acceptance, but they will reveal that we’ve accepted of that love. Test yourself to see which of the two sons you exemplify. Here’s the criterion. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15.