Thankfully God gave me two ears and only one mouth! Given that ratio I should be listening twice as much as speaking. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, God positioned my mouth visibly in front!
Charles Wesley wrote a great hymn called, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Honestly, at times I have trouble managing one tongue, let alone a thousand! Only what goes in through the ears comes out through the mouth!
Democracy attempts to give equal voice to poor and rich, unknown, or famous, young as well as old. Though I reside in a democratic nation I attempt to live from Kingdom of God principles. A kingdom is not democratic!
Lately my King Jesus has been pinpointing some of my speaking problems. Sometimes the issue is a shortage of words; other times it is the type of words resonating from my lips that create the difficulty.
Advice to a King
This morning I read a mother’s advice to her kingly son. Listening to your mother is always important! When such advice is in the Bible, it deserves even greater attention!
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Many segments of our society are “voiceless”, and easily ignored, even in a democracy.
Silenced by fear and intimidation,
bullied into the shadows,
the censorship of accusation,
manipulation and control.
The cost of speaking up can be extremely high! Who will speak for the unborn, the elderly, the intellectually disabled, the ones without home or identity? The challenge reaches beyond a king’s son to each of us.
The Bible speaks on numerous occasions admonishing the importance of listening. In many instances silence is the wiser, more excellent, way! Here is a sampling:
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalms 141:3
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives,
but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19
“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint,
and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27
There is just reason for such encouragement! I will spare you the details of my personal tongue wagging when silence would have been appropriate. Understanding combined with grace contribute of listening well.
Silence arises either from the womb of wisdom or the tomb of shame? The first releases life; the second is a dark prison.
“There is a time for everything
…a time to be silent
and a time to speak,”
A Time to Speak
When is the right time to speak? And how? Solomon offers sound advice:
“…the wise heart will know
the proper time and procedure.
For there is a proper time
and procedure for every matter.”
“A good man brings good things
out of the good stored up in his heart,
and an evil man brings evil things
out of the evil stored up in his heart.
For the mouth speaks
what the heart is full of.”
My tongue may be situated close to my brain, but it is inseparably connected to my heart! If I’m having trouble with my tongue, the heart, not diction, is the real issue.
“When she speaks, her words are wise,
and she gives instructions with kindness.” Proverbs 31:26
“Like apples of gold in settings of silver
is a ruling rightly given.” Proverbs 25:11
“Let your conversation be always full of grace,
seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6
“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply —
and how good is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23
The Power of Words
Words hold incredible power
to forgive and restore,
build and encourage,
impart wisdom and share knowledge,
inspire and motivate,
teach and train.
At times, wordless voids create deafening silence. A silence leaving others feeling unloved, unwanted, insignificant, used, or shunned. The right words validate, show respect, affirm, and cherish. They sooth wounds and minister healing. Well spoken words bring understanding, lift burdens, and ease pain. They release permission to dream, aspire, and hope. Words powerfully protect the weak and ensure justice prevails.
“If anyone sins
because they do not speak up
when they hear a public charge
to testify regarding something
they have seen or learned about,
they will be held responsible.”
Silence is not always an option! Failure to use our voice has eternal consequences!
The most important message we have is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; “it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes”. Many have misquoted Francis of Assisi as saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”
Actually, he was advocating for words and actions to accurately reflect each other. Look what Francis of Assisi modelled:
(He) clearly spent a great deal of time using his words when he preached,
“sometimes preaching in up to five villages a day, often outdoors.
In the country, Francis often spoke from a bale of straw
or a granary doorway. In town, he would climb on a box
or up steps in a public building. He preached to . . .
any who gathered to hear the strange
but fiery little preacher from Assisi.”
Paul asks his Roman readers a relevant question,
“But how can they call on him
to save them unless they believe in him?
And how can they believe in him
if they have never heard about him?
And how can they hear about him
unless someone tells them?
We have both voice and influence. Daily there is opportunity to share our personal stories of faith with others. These simple heartfelt words may be the channel God uses to bring someone into faith in Jesus Christ.
No Greater Joy
A young woman excitedly shared how she through faltering prayer, lead a friend into personal relationship with Jesus. Her own conversion to faith is fresh; her Bible knowledge limited. One thing she knows — Jesus is worth it all!
Tears of joy and gratitude streamed down her face as she spoke. This experience of witnessing someone come to Christ has trumped her Christian experience. Well it should!
Yet mixed with tears of joy were also tears of sadness as she exclaimed, “Why didn’t someone tell me? Why did I have to wait until I was over thirty years old to hear about Jesus? How different my life would have been if someone would have shared Jesus with me sooner!”
There is no greater joy! With equal enthusiasm heaven and earth should celebrate when a sinner comes home!
“In the same way, I tell you,
there is rejoicing in the presence
of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
We don’t need all our spiritual “ducks in a row” with impeccable theology or living in holy perfection to be effective voices for the Kingdom of God. God looks for the willing!
Voices willing to speak
when hearts are tender;
voices willing to challenge
when injustice rises.
Today I’m praying for the right words combined with boldness to speak them! The results are up to God! I can hardly wait to see what He will do!