Mere talk is so cheap that Jesus addressed it specifically with a parable found in Matthew 21:28-32. It’s the parable of the two sons and I’ll paraphrase it, but you can find the full text here.
A man asked his oldest of two sons to work in the vineyard. The son said, “No, I’m not working out there;” but he changed his mind and went anyways.
Then, the father told his younger son to go work in the field, and he told him “Sure, I’ll go out there,” but he never went.
Jesus asked which one of the boys obeyed his father? Without question, the Pharisees answered ‘the first.’
Jesus went on to explain the meaning of the parable, saying that corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before they (the Pharisees) would. This is because the Pharisees didn’t repent of their sins, while the sinners did.
Put simply, Jesus was addressing hypocrisy – saying one thing, and doing the opposite. In fact, we can read in Proverbs a warning about hypocrisy when it comes to work:
Proverbs 14:23 All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Mere Talk is Cheap
Talk is cheap at work. Talk is cheap at home. Talk is cheap with God.
If you can’t keep your word at work and do your best to achieve what you say you will, it will soon be recognized and your job might be on the line.
If you can’t keep your word at home, your relationship with your spouse and kids will soon deteriorate.
If you can’t keep your word with God and follow his commands, your relationship with Him will suffer.
Hard Work is Profitable
I think the verse in Proverbs covers both the earthly and eternal perspective here.
I’ve seen and experienced this verse first hand and know the value of hard work, as well as the cheapness of mere talk. When you do your best to go above and beyond your job responsibilities, you soon get noticed. It may take a while and it may not be your boss, but someone will notice you. The same is true if you’re not keeping your word. Someone will notice and you’ll be called on it.
Humility is the Unmentioned Key
I think humility makes all the difference when you’re trying to back up your talk with hard work. It sets you apart from other hard workers – because you can be a hard worker but self-centered as well.
Check out Philippians 2:3-4
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
We can read further and see how Jesus’ actions should be modeled in our own lives. Just imagine how your workplace would be different if people followed these two simple verses.
It won’t happen all at once, but it can happen one person at a time. Are you up for the challenge?
Can you attest to the phrase ‘Talk is cheap, hard work leads to profit”? Share your story in the comments.