In Defense of Words

Words get a bad rap these days. Especially words spoken by Christians. (You know, of course, that we’ve become the villains of our times.)

We’ve earned a measure of our poor reputation through hypocrisy and lazy faith.

That’s a sad state of affairs each of us must address in our mirrors and in our reflections in God’s Word. More on that in a moment.

But, it’s also de rigueur to eschew a certain kind of Christian.

You know the type. The ones who dare speak in public what they study in private. The ones who talk about sin as a serious problem requiring action and not just as an archaic notion we flaunt with our Netflix library. The ones who still believe in repentance, eternal consequences for rejecting Jesus Christ who is the only way of salvation, and that mercy and hard truth can emerge from the same heart.

There are christians who speak another version of truth, but that’s like saying there are Louis Vuitton bags for sale from a car trunk in the lower East Side. Capisci?

It’s essential, of course, that our lives prove our words and our actions speak just as loudly as our Tweets and Instagram memes, but, Believer, words matter.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:14a

God spoke the world into being, (Genesis 1) which testifies to the creativity, power, intelligence, and strength of His Words. And we are made in His image and are being sanctified into the image of Jesus who is the Word and so you must concede our words then, have creative, powerful, intelligent, strong potential to effect eternity.

And God agrees because He warns us that one day we will account for even every careless word we speak (or share on Facebook). (Matthew 12:36-37)

This is why our silence is a crime and our failure to speak when opportunities arise a dereliction of duty, betraying a merciless attitude that says I’d rather be safe and have you like me than tell you a truth that has eternal implications, so I can be socially comfortable until we part ways forever.

We live in the times of CSI and NCIS, so in love with autopsy we’d rather dissect a living truth until it lies dead on our table and then declare it didn’t hold up under the knife than to explore a living, breathing mystery that talks back with uncomfortable truths about ourselves. But the ancients did not divide action and word, any more than they divorced body from soul and mind.

Hear the words of our brother, Paul, who wrote to encourage and instruct a young pastor shepherding a group of Jesus followers through trying times. Look at the intensity of the verbs. Note the equal weight given to words as to deeds. Appreciate that these words echo through time with undiluted power and voice protected not by humanity, but by God Himself for our encouragement and instruction for life.

“If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” (I Timothy 4:6) Training. This speaks of discipline, perseverance, and diligent effort, yes?

 

“Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.” (1 Timothy 4:7-9)

Are we less devoted to training that will serve us endlessly into the adventure that awaits our souls than we are to the training that may only serve us for another decade or two?

“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (I Timothy 4:10) Toil and strive, are these verbs reflected in our investment in our faith?

“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (I Timothy 4:11-12) Again, these are confident active verbs that speak equally to words as to the actions that testify to their truth.

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” (I Timothy 4:13-14) There is no place here for private faith, for secret devotion, for flying under the social radar. Devotion, public reading, exhortation, teaching, and not neglecting our gifts. These are action words designed to disrupt our lives and discomfort all who know the name of Jesus.

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (I Timothy 4:15-16) The strength of these words is like Michael Phelps slicing through water in pursuit of gold. Practice, immerse, be visible to others, keep close watch, persist, save yourself and others. Are we lesser Olympians in the race for souls?

Do we care that we may be the generation that finishes this chapter of th

e story and if so, do we care about finishing well?

There is no more holistic faith than that of those who follow Jesus Christ. Discipleship requires our whole focus, our all-encompassing attention, our body, soul, mind, strength, words, and works, loved ones.

Words are not just words. Words light the way for souls fumbling in the dark for the door that leads to life. When was the last time you spoke up?

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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Donna Richmond says:

    Keep on keeping on. I ask God to continue to put people in my path, and HE does. Thanks Lori.

  2. Linda Y DuBois says:

    Wow! Refreshing.
    Thank you

  3. Charla says:

    Amen. So be it. I am grateful for your words, Lori. Thank God through you 🙂