If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.
In chapter 10 we get to see Jesus once again being challenged by the Pharisees. His reply here reminds us that our actions matter more than our words. He tells them that since they don’t believe his words, to judge him by his actions.
This mirrors what Jesus said in Matthew 7:
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
And also what we read in Proverbs 20:
Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.
It also reminds me of this saying a friend shared with me several years ago:
I don’t trust words. I even question actions. But I never doubt patterns.
You see, people can lie with their words. They can even act in the ‘right’ way and mislead you…for awhile. Eventually, if we are looking for them, patterns reveal themselves.
Not only is this something we should be aware of and be watching for in others in order to live a discerning life; but also something that we should be aware of in our own life. I’m wondering if we could confidently say, “Even if you don’t believe my words, watch my actions. That will convince you.” Paul said something like that to the church in Corinth when he wrote:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
After Jesus issues his challenge to the Pharisees and the others listening, we’re told that he goes away from them, but many people followed him to where he went. Then we’re told that:
And many believed in him there.
I guess his actions spoke for themselves.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion:
- Discuss the idea of not trusting words, even actions, but watching for patterns. Why is this important?
- Why is it so scary to think about telling people they could ignore our words and just watch our actions? Why do you think Paul was confident enough to say that?
- Take some time to look for patterns in your own life.
- Look for patterns that may reveal things you want to change.
- Look for patterns that show positive traits that could point someone to Christ.