“Take words with you,” said the 8th century prophet Hosea, “and return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:2).
Does the Lord want to hear words? Evidently.
Words are mighty important.
The Psalmist prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
Before Job’s friends launched into the attack against him, one set him up for the fall. You used to be something special, said friend Eliphaz. But look at you now.
Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees. (Job 4:3-4)
Imagine that, having the power to stand someone on their feet by the power of words.
We have all seen the power of words to take someone down, to knock them off their feet. That, not incidentally, is what Job’s three friends were attempting. They saw how God had humbled him, but it troubled them to see his spirit was still strong, and they would remedy that with their words of accusation.
With friends like that….
A cutting remark. An unkind word. A harsh word of truth, but administered with no cushion of love. “Speaking the truth in love,” is how Paul put it in Ephesians 4:14. Truth, yes, but with love.
Truth without love is harsh and hurting. Love without truth is sentimentality and meaningless. But together they balance one another. (The First Epistle of John is all about truth plus love.)
Someone asked what Winston Churchill did during the War. “He talked,” said the critic with an air of dismissal. He did indeed talk. But oh, how he talked.
The Lord Jesus came talking. Preaching the kingdom of God. “Never man spake like this man,” they said of Him (John 7:46). And they were right.
“By your words,” said the Lord Jesus, “you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)
Every idle word matters, said the Lord. “For every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement” (12:36).
Idle words? Oh my. I can hear us now, “Lord, I didn’t mean anything by those words! It’s just slang. Just a little profanity, taking the name of Jesus as a byword. Using God’s name in vain. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Clean up your language, Christian. And know this, you will give account for every word you speak in this life. Scary? It should be.
Dr. Chuck Kelley says, “If Jesus is on our minds, He will find a way out of our mouths.”
And–before someone objects–let us say that the behavior must back up the words. That’s why we have I John 3:18 in Holy Scripture. “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue (only), but in deed and in truth.”
Conclusion: Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks in His name. (Hebrews 13:15)