“Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep.” // John 21:15, 16, 17
I am a writer. My business is words. Words are both the tools of my trade and the product I send forth. I use them to help people know Jesus and understand the teachings of the Church. I also use them to help people know themselves and understand the dignity of every human person.
Nathanial Hawthorne once said, “Easy reading is damned hard writing.” And it’s true. Crafting engaging, compelling, and clear sentences takes work. Having the courage to write about subjects that touch people’s deepest wounds, prejudices, and convictions takes even more work.
But none of it takes as much work as living out the words I write.
Telling people to practice patience is one thing. Being patient with my three-year-old who has gotten into the dish soap for the tenth time this week and poured it all over the kitchen floor is another.
Reminding people that Jesus calls us to forgive others and bear wrongs patiently is simple compared to turning the other cheek and biting my tongue when a stranger insults me online.
Waxing poetic about human dignity is a walk in the park compared to putting down my phone and focusing on the people in front of me, treating them as the images of God that they are.
Words are easy. Actions are hard. Which may be one reason why Jesus repeats His question to Peter in John 21. “Do you love me?” Not simply as a reminder of the three times Peter denied Him, but to stress that love must be shown through actions: “Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep” (John 21:15, 16, 17).
Words are good. But they are never enough. We prove our love for Jesus not simply by saying, as Peter said, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you,” but by doing as Peter did—following Our Lord, obeying Our Lord, and caring for those entrusted to us by Our Lord. It’s our actions, more than our words, which make us disciples. It’s our actions, more than our words, which make us His.
So, as you go about your day today, ask yourself, “Who are the lambs Jesus wants me to feed? What is the work He calls me to do?” Then, feed the sheep, do the work. And by His grace, your life will bear fruit greater than you can imagine.It’s our actions which make us disciples. // Emily Stimpson Chapman Click To Tweet