Proverbs 29:19 teaches us that, “A slave will not be instructed by words alone; For though he understands, there will be no response” (NIV). Is this a case of cognitive deficiency? No, the slave understands what’s being asked of him by the master. If he understands what is being asked of him, why doesn’t he obey? We have modern sayings that speak to this: “Talk is cheap.” “Actions speak louder than words.” This slave has chosen to not obey. This is a matter of the will and this slave has a rebel will and has chosen not to obey his master.
What could the master do to get the rebellious slave to obey? He could threaten him but that is no substitute for ACTIONS! The master needs to take action to insure compliance. This may take the form of reward or punishment, positive or negative reinforcement. Positively, he could offer the slave something that the slave wants such as time off from his labor, additional food portions, or money. Negatively, he could have the slave beaten or killed (remember slaves in the ancient world were not people, they were property and could be beaten or killed at the whim of the master with complete impunity).
We are just as guilty as the slave, aren’t we? We are rebels. We use words, often boatloads of words, to distract others from the fact that we aren’t taking any action at all. We make excuses. We are defensive. We try to talk our way out of sinful situations of our own making. Words, words, words! Elsie and I have found that people who use many words when just a few are needed are using words as weapons to manipulate and control others.
True repentance involves both words and actions. Repentance is incomplete, even false, if it simply asks forgiveness of the one who’s been wronged without a practical plan of action for change. Words are cheap! Repentance must go beyond words to actions. Only then is it true repentance.,