Intro: What do we have more of than the generations before us? WORDS – I want to consider the implications of the storm of words that characterizes our world.
Jehovah is a speaking God. From the creation until now, God has always been revealing His mind to His creation. In fact, the act of creation itself was accomplished through the speaking of God. Gen 1:3 – Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” (9 times in the chapter)
Heb 11:3 – By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Heb 1:3 – …and upholding all things by the word of His power, These passages teach that everything we see is a word of God, and many things we don’t see, God words are all around us. One could rightly say God speaks a lot.
Of course, the phrase “word of God” most often references His words revealed in scripture. God has not only spoken naturally, but verbally as well. Heb 1:1-2 – God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son… Peter, as an apostle of Jesus, declared that he did not speak cleverly devised fables, but the words of the Holy Spirit – words confirmed by God. Praise God that He has spoken to us! We can know His mind.
I. A God of Few Words – But how much has God spoken to us? The inspired, authoritative, infallible accumulated written record of the specific words God delivered over a period of 3,500–4,000 years — the entire guide book for God’s people is small. It contains 66 “books” or separate revelations, and many of those are brief; some only a few pages long. The whole Bible contains a little over 750,000 words, most English versions of the Bible have less than two thousand pages.
A. To help put that number in perspective, here are rough estimates for several popular books or authors:
• William Shakespeare: 960,000
• Harry Potter: 1,084,170
• Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics: 6,000,000
• The Bible: Only 750,000. Numbers like these simply make us pause and wonder over God’s written word economy.
1. It only increases our wonder to consider how few words we have of Jesus Himself when He was here with us in the flesh. We only have a relative handful of recorded words that he actually spoke. Unlike us, Jesus seems to have been a man of few words. Why did he choose the words he did? Why didn’t he say more? We may ne have a good answer for these questions. We all may wish He had spoken more.
a. What we know is that Jesus limited himself to speaking only what the Father gave him to speak. John 8:28 – …but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. Jesus chose His words carefully. His words were powerful and appropriate.
II. A World Set on Fire by Words… Since the beginning of sin, the human tongue has been a powder keg of destructive power. James 3:5-8 –Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
A. too many words… The wise man wrote: Prov. 10:19 – In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. The world we live in is a world of words – too many words. This seems especially relevant today when there are so many ways to so much. Satan, has used his influence to fill the airwaves, cyber-waves, print-waves and ever mode of communication with lying words.
1. You have the right to speak – all the time – about anything. The proliferation of communication is a wonderful blessing when viewed and used in context of spreading God’s words. But it has developed in our world into an environment of verbal sinfulness. With the advent of social media, everyone now has a broadcast platform to speak publicly on any social, cultural, political, economic, or theological issue, any controversy, any scandal, anytime they wish, regardless of what they know. This freedom and access has benefits, but in reality, is a dangerous thing, spiritually speaking.
III. Trembling at Our Words. Christians should be the most careful speakers in the world. We ought to be characterized by two kinds of trembling when it comes to words: we should tremble at the words God speaks and we should tremble at the words we speak.
A. Tremble at God’s words – “This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2)
B. Tremble at my words – But why should we tremble at the words we speak? Because Jesus said, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36–37) “Every careless word” is a high challenge and should cause us speak with fear. How can we monitor every word? On the average we speak 10-12 thousand words a day.
1. We should tremble in both of these occasions for the same reason. We love and fear God and do not want to profane His name. We want Him to get glory from what we say or do not say. Which brings us to the next observation:
IV. A Time to Be Silent: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: …a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) There really is a time to keep silent. And that time comes more often than we might consider.
A. Because we live in an age of unceasing talk, the ability and willingness to not speak is very important. I can express an idea or an attitude through the push of a button with a “like or a dislike”. I can be made to feel ashamed if I do not share my view on what another posts or says. Eccl 10:14 says… a fool multiplies words. Our culture does not value the wisdom of intended silence. We become conditioned to accept this as well.
B. Slow to speak… James 1:19 – So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak.. If there is one thing I have never been good at it is speaking slow! The slowness God desires flows from a desire and readiness to listen (swift to hear). We must be ready to hear God above all else. We need to also listen carefully to others before we speak. So often we are not listening to what the other person is saying because we are focused on what we intend to say. “
1. Slow to speak implies that there is a time for silence. Sometimes it means we are silent for some appropriate brief or extended period of time while being quick to hear (listening carefully), so we gain an accurate understanding of an issue before we speak carefully. And sometimes it means we don’t speak at all. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
2. Consider as well, that God’s people are called to be “peacemakers” – (Matt. 5:9). Many times, more words only adds to the war, and does nothing to bring peace. Less words can be less fuel for the fires.
V. A Time to Speak: But Christians must not always keep silence. There is a time to speak. There is a time in which we cannot be silent. 1 Peter 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you..” Our God is a speaking God and calls us to speak as well. We cannot be ashamed of His words.
A. But notice that when God speaks, He speaks intentionally, and considering his knowledge of all things, He speaks with restraint. That is how He wants me to speak as well. Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! (Psalm 141:3)
1. Paul characterizes the words of the Christian like this… Eph 4:29 – Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Not words that corrupt or destroy, but words that build up and impart grace.
2. When it comes time to speak, we must follow Jesus’ example. We must remember that our mouths, fingers and platforms from which we speak, belong to God. We are not free to say whatever we wish, even about what we may know. We are subject to a higher authority than our knowledge, insight, freedom, or desire to be heard. We don’t speak for human “likes”; we speak for God’s approval.
3. Truth in Love: Because we are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) we must be ready and willing to speak what is easy and what is hard for people to hear. In Proverbs 16 the wise man says that the heart of the wises teaches his mouth.. We have to learn to say the right thing at the right time. He goes on to tell us that Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Prov 16:23-24) There are times when we need to speak pleasant words that build up through encouragement. But the wise also says that the wounds of a friend are trustworthy (Prov. 27:6). This is speaking like Jesus, who sometimes said things like, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), and who at other times said things like, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).
a. Discerning when to speak tender words and when to speak tough words, or when to speak no words at all is such a daily challenge of faithfulness that it must needs keep us dependent on God in word, prayer, and even fasting.
b. What will help the most in this struggle is to stay focused on the centrality and importance of God’s words (however few they seem to be). The right kind of fear of the Lord is our best mouthguard.
In Conclusion: We need to monitor our tongues. Let us deal seriously with this problem by:
- Confessing the sins of our lips to God (1 John 1:9), and to appropriate others (James 5:16)
- Making this our prayer: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3),
- Letting our words be appropriately few to God (Ecclesiastes 5:2) and to others (James 1:19),
One writer compared the immense storm of words that invades our lives as a hurricane. He went on to say that, as with every hurricane, in the center there is an eye of calm. He said that the eye of calm is the words of God.
We need to seek the hurricane’s eye. The storm of words never lets up. We can easily get used to it and acclimate ourselves to howling winds of men’s words. The hush of the eye can feel strange. The quiet of the refuge can be unnerving. If that’s true for us, we need the stillness more than we realize.
We need to take refuge in the eye of the storm – in the words of God. Our God is a speaking God. He is not silent. The Word is speaking into existence you and everything else that exists. And the relatively few words of God revealed by the Holy spirit in Scripture have more power in them than five hundred trillion words of men, angels, and demons. That’s why the Father says to us of his Son, “listen to him” (Matthew 17:5). We would do well to listen more and speak less — and when we do speak, to only speak what he gives us to say.