In this series we’ve been looking at what it takes to get our spiritual life back on track. Some of us know that we’re stuck. We may be frustrated, angry, confused, or just tired. We got here through difficulties, disappointments, or simply dry-times. Sometimes there isn’t anything wrong, but there is also not much that feels right.
We hear about a relationship with God, but he seems distant at best, or missing at worst. Or, we know some truth, but we’re not sure it’s making any difference in our lives at the moment. As we’ve worked through this process, we’ve covered topics like: Hiding from God, Regaining a Vision for our relationship with God, Developing a Christ-lens as we read Scripture, Grabbing hold of Jesus’ mission. In my experience, these things are crucial to helping me continue to grow in my faith in Christ.
Last time I wrote about how people of faith can deepen their intimacy with Christ as they deepen their intimacy with one another. It is a challenge to do life together but one worth embarking on.
In this post I want to talk about an important part of our spiritual formation and an important part of our life together. As one who talks for a living, I think it’s one I struggle with more than others. That is the use of our voice, our words.
What we say and how we say it have an enormous impact. They have an impact in four ways.
Firstly, they express what’s happening on the inside. Words indicate what’s in the heart. Our hearts are the seat of our intimacy and fellowship with God. Our words reveal the depth and health of that intimacy with God. Jesus was pretty clear that words communicate more than ideas and feelings. They reveal our condition. Jesus said, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” (Matthew 15:18)
Secondly, they reinforce what’s in the heart. When we express and attitude or idea, we can actually cement it into our hearts and minds with our words. Through repetition we create patterns in the way we think and feel. You’ve probably experienced this through the practice of “self-talk.” Yesterday I was playing golf. I made a series of lousy shots and after one particularly disappointing shot I muttered aloud with great disgust, “C’mon, Jimmy.” I didn’t feel better about myself after those words. Nor did it help my golf game. In fact, all they did was encourage me toward greater frustration and continue in my unrealistic expectations.
Thirdly, they impact other people of faith. By our words, we either help one another, or we hurt one another. Paul is pretty clear about that. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Eph. 4:29)
Lastly, they impact the very mission of Christ. Our mission is wrapped up in 2 ways. We are witnesses and we are to make disciples, through teaching. Both of these require words. The gospel message is one of words. We either point people toward salvation with our words, or we create obstacles to the message being received. Romans 10:17 reminds us that the path of faith is through words, “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” You’ve heard it said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.” That may be a nice sentiment, but without words there is no salvation. The offer of Christ and the response of faith are both through words.
God & Words
A friend and pastor, Kent Carlson (Twitter @Kent_Carlson) once said to me, “God is a veritable chatter-box.” In other words, God is a communicator. He always speaks. His words are an expression of a heart that wants to draw us into deep oneness with Him.
The story of our world starts with words. In Genesis 1:3 “Then God said…” And the pattern begins. God moves through words. He speaks and creation responds. Even when God was considering the creation of women and men, he said to himself, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) God speaks with words.
God communicates to his people through words. Throughout the Bible, God uses angels as his messengers. He calls prophets and priests to speak on his behalf. 2 Peter 1:21 explains “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” He directed the writing of the Scriptures which encourage, correct, and empower people to live with their Creator and Redeemer.
God gave the ultimate Word, Jesus himself. He is called “the Word.” John 1:1 recalls, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Then he proceeds to tell us, “This Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14). The writer of Hebrews tells us more about this Word. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3).
God is a god of words. He is not silent. His words assure us of his presence. They give life. They draw us to the table with Him.
Words matter to God, they matter to us.
We can’t ignore the importance of words, our words. Do you need more life in your faith? Do you need to feel Christ’s closeness again? Do you need to be reinvigorated in God’s mission? Shaping our words will make a difference. If our words agree with the heart of God, our understanding and trust of Him will deepen; and our experience of His presence will increase.
How can we do that? Here are 2 types of words we can add to our voice, which will add life to our walk with Jesus.
Praises are words that express the goodness, beauty, holiness and power of God. These are words that reveal and reinforce that God alone is worthy of our worship. Words of praise can be shouted, or whispered. But they need to be an ever-growing part of our vocabulary.
If you can’t think of any praises to declare, look to the Psalms.
“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.” (Psalm 34:1-2)
“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name worship the holiness in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:1-2)
Proclamations are announcements. Our words should announce the presence of a new King and a new Kingdom. Our words can announce that grace and truth has entered the world in Jesus and now He reigns over all things. Any hurt, frustration, or disappointment is a temporary pain with eternal purpose. Our words should affirm the nature of Jesus, the work of Jesus in the world and the hope of a future wrapped up in Jesus.
How do your words, in every ordinary conversation, express the rule and reign of Christ? This isn’t a Christian sales pitch, but a spirit in our words that strengthen our trust in Him, His work, and His reign over all things.
Let John 1:1-14 be a foundation of what you say about life, Christ, hope and the beginning of a new kingdom.
Our words have opportunity bring joy as they echo through the halls of heaven. And they also can fill the crevices of human hearts with the balm of Christ’s love. They bring us closer to Him, or they keep us at a distance. They express and they shape.
How do you feel about the condition of your heart? How do you feel about the condition of your words? What would it take today, to use your words to praise and proclaim our King?
If you need more encouragement on the importance of words from Scripture, check out this page!
If there is a way I can encourage you, or serve your ministry, my email is on my “About Jim Renke” page. Or you can direct message me on twitter @jimrenke, or instagram at jimrenke. I’d love to hear from you. You can also stay connected on my facebook page.
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