Proverbs 20:11

Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.


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Actions speak louder than words. It is much harder to lie with your life than with your mouth. Wise persons measure you by what you do – excuses do not impress them. Your reputation is based on the pure and right things you do. Promises do not cut it – talk is cheap; all men do it; most men abuse it – performance and productivity are the keys.

Even children, who are not yet conscious of hypocrisy, show their character by deeds. Grown men praise themselves, pretend to be wise, exaggerate results, and minimize their faults; but a man’s conduct proves his soul. Your record trashes your resume. Hypocrites are exposed, if you ignore their words and measure their actions by the rule of Scripture.

Wisdom includes ability to discern the character of others. Solomon knew his son must be a good judge of men to be a good king. He had just written, “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Pr 20:6). Rather than reading resumes and listening to testimonies, wise men measure a man’s conduct.

Consider how Solomon measured men. He wrote, “I went by the field of the slothful” (Pr 24:30). He did not read the man’s resume or interview him. He visually observed the man’s estate and analyzed it to know his character (Pr 24:31-32). He concluded the man enjoyed sleeping more than working and would be financially ruined soon (Pr 24:33-34).

What will happen when Proverbs-trained men or women inspect your life? It will not matter what you say, for they do not listen – they look. Think financially or professionally. Do you have savings from each year of your life? Do you have a transferable skill? Are you debt-free? Are you earning two times your age? Do you have the highest credit rating? Have you mentored or sponsored others to the same success?

Self-examination is painful! But it is better for you to make the assessment than someone else! What will you do today to be pure and right financially or professionally? And while you are at it – consider your marriage, your weight, the trunk of your car, your walk with God, your role in the church, your number of friends, the training of your children, knowledge of the Bible, the cleanliness and organization of your home, etc.

Some will say, “No one knows my heart.” But Solomon and Jesus said what shows in your life, including your speech, is a perfect picture of your heart. Read this proverb again and other scriptures (Pr 10:20; Gen 6:5; Ps 36:1; Matt 12:33-37; Mark 7:20-23; Luke 16:15; Jas 4:1). For this reason, keep your heart with all diligence (Pr 4:23).

Some cars are all show and no go. But so are many people! They talk the talk, but they seldom or never walk the walk. There is little evidence in their lives of pure and right fruit. If God examined your life tonight, measured by the fruit that proves election and eternal life, what would you score in the test (II Pet 1:5-11)? Are you blind to the future, when your life will be weighed, when only good works will be accepted (Eccl 12:13-14)?

David knew the danger of hypocrites and pretenders. He begged God to get rid of them for the prosperity of his kingdom and people. He prayed, “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood” (Ps 144:11). He hated lying words and false handshakes and oaths.

Jesus taught to measure prophets by fruits – the spiritual results of their ministries (Matt 7:15-20). Claims mean nothing; popularity means nothing; growth means nothing; lively assemblies mean nothing. A minister’s measure is spiritual fruit in the lives of his hearers (I Tim 4:13-16; 6:3-6; II Tim 3:1 – 4:4; I Cor 3:9-17). Many ministries are bankrupt.

A good tree does not bear bad fruit; a bad tree does not bear good fruit. Men do not look for grapes on thorn bushes, and they do not look for figs on thistle plants (Matt 7:15-20). A fig tree does not bear olive berries, a grapevine does not produce figs, and a good fountain does not give bitter water (Jas 3:10-11). How does your fruit classify you?

When it comes to the gospel and eternal life, the rule applies as well. Professions of faith mean nothing in comparison to works of righteousness (Matt 7:21; II Pet 1:10-11). The devils believe there is one God and tremble about it, but it does them no good (Jas 2:19). Faith without works is worthless (Jas 2:14-26). John wrote, “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 2:4).

Exceptional sins do not alter the rule, for they are exceptions, and the best of men will sin. David, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Peter, among others, sinned notably. But their overall character was much greater in proving honest and good hearts. David sinned heinously, but his general conduct was far superior to the consistent carnality of Saul’s life.

What should you do before the sun sets to improve your reputation? Remember, it must be by doing something pure and right. You do not impress wise persons by talking. And to believe your own words is insanity (Jer 17:9). If you think you are 90% perfect, but others think you are only 70%, it is probable that God has you perfectly pegged at 50%.

Your reputation before God and good men depends on your actions, and both of these judges are to be won (Pr 22:1; 3:4; Luke 2:52). Even a little folly can stink up your life (Ec 10:1), as children do from time to time, so you must be careful at all times in everything you do. Take life one day at a time and live it as perfectly as you can.

Your actions influence the world. Your life is the only Bible some will ever read. The changed lives of the Corinthians made them living epistles (II Cor 3:2-3). You should preach Christ in everything you do, speaking only when necessary. By living for Him, you glorify God, adorn the gospel, defend the faith, encourage saints, silence enemies, convert sinners, and many other good things. Are you savory salt or worthless gravel?