Honoring Our Word

word

There is a refrain repeated over and over again in the first chapter of Genesis: “And God said, let there be. . .” I don’t think the author was just repeating this for merely stylistic reasons. The authors wanted to emphasize the fact that this physical world was brought into existence via the power of God’s spoken word! The Bible says: “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 ESV) Even now, the world as we know it is sustained by the power of God’s word!

But the purpose of this post is not so much to talk about the power of God’s word, but rather the power of our word! Let me show you what I’m talking about. The same record that tells us that this world was created by the spoken word of God, also tells us that we (mankind) were created in the image and likeness of God and given dominion over the earth. Now anything that is created in the image and likeness of something or someone, also shares the characteristics and traits of the someone or something that created it! Hence, just as God has creative power in his word, we also have limited creative (or re-creative) power in our word! Therefore just as God honors and respects his word we should honor and respect of our word! Jesus said: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (Mat 12:36 KJV) In that text, the Greek word that is translated as “idle” has the connotation of “non-working, empty or vain.” The point is that we should make every word we speak work for us and not against us! We should not talk just to hear ourselves talking, but rather we should be thoughtful and intentional with the words we speak. We should honor and respect our word in the same manner that God honors and respects his word.

Well, how do we do this? Here are just a few practical steps to help us become more intentional in making our word work for us to our advantage:

  1. Speak only the truth and do not lie! Lying is so detrimental to the integrity of our word because our words were designed to disclose the content of our hearts and to relay the intentions of our wills. Lying causes confusion and is an improper use of our words! And besides that, lying puts us on God’s hate list (See Proverbs 6: 16-19). In addition, lying makes us more like the devil, who is described in the Bible as the “Father of lies!”
  2. Say what you mean and mean what you say! Don’t use your word to deliberately mislead; be intentional in using your word to convey your will and intention because that’s how God employs his word! Speak intentionally and deliberately: Don’t just talk to hear yourself talking or just to be saying something!
  3. Use your word to build up; not to tear down! The ole nursery rhyme that said: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” was not accurate! Words can wound the spirit and break the will! Words can inspire, they can also discourage! Words can build up and they can also tear down!
  4. Speak what you want; don’t speak what you don’t want! Jesus said in Mark 11:23: “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. (Mar 11:23 KJV). It’s interesting to note that Jesus didn’t instruct his disciples to speak to God about the mountain; he told his disciples to talk to the mountain (about God?). It could very well be the reason many times our situations don’t get any better is because we keep talking to God about the problem, rather than speaking to the problem.
  5. Your word is too important and powerful for jesting and foolish talking! Keep joking to a minimum! Honor the intentional power of your word!

Don Miguel Ruiz writes, in his work: “The Four Agreements,” “The first agreement is to be impeccable with your word . . . Why your word? Your word is the power you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God….Through the word you express your creative power. It is through the word that you manifest everything.” The Bible says: “In the beginning was the word. . .” Of course the scripture reference is the Word Incarnate: Jesus of Nazareth. But it also expresses a principle of life: Everything in our lives begins with a word, therefore, we should not only honor the word of God, but we should also honor the word of the creatures made in the image and likeness of God! We should honor our word!

The Source of Your Theology

theologySeveral years ago, I was invited to preach at a church where a friend and a fellow seminary classmate served as pastor. As we sat in his office, preparing to go out into the sanctuary for the worship experience, he informed me that he had a member present in the congregation that night who had some mental issues that might serve to be a distraction for me as I preached. He told me not to take anything the member said during the sermon personally or seriously because whatever the member said during my discourse would most likely be because of his mental issues. (It was a predominantly African-American congregation, therefore, it was OK and expected for the congregation to help the preacher preach! Can I get a witness?) Well, as I was preaching, sure enough, the member started blurting out in a disturbing manner. I don’t remember exactly what I was saying, but I will never forget what that member said! I had made, what I thought at the time was a profound statement, when that member loudly asked: “Where did you get those facts?” Now, because the pastor had fore-warned me, I was able to ignore the outburst and keep preaching without being taken aback. But, as I drove home that evening, that question wouldn’t go away and I found myself asking myself: “Where indeed did I get those facts?”

Many times we often say things we’ve heard other people say and we take them as gospel-truths when their validity may indeed be suspect. This is especially true when it comes to matters of faith and theology. We will often take the word of a preacher or a television evangelist as being a gospel-fact and not verify it for ourselves. When we do this, by default we adopt the theology of the speaker as our own and consequently neglect to exercise the due diligence to work out our own theology.

Now, you might be saying at this point; “That’s all well and good because I am not a theologian anyway!” You may not be a theologian by profession or training, but everyone engages in the theological process. The word “theology” literally means “god (theo)-study (logy)” Theology is the study of God. In its most primary definition, theology simply means; the study of “what you think about God.”

So, what do you think about God and what is the source of those thoughts? Do they come solely from your pastor or some other preacher? Do they come from what you heard your parents say, from your traditions or from common folk-lore? You’d be surprised, but there are many people today who form their theology from the gospel music they hear on the radio! A typical example of this is the belief that when praises go up; blessings come down! This notion didn’t come from scripture, but rather from a gospel song! Nevertheless, I have heard it preached by some preachers as gospel truth!

No matter where you get your ideas about God, the only true and real source is the Bible! However, even when the Bible is your source, you must be sure to correctly interpret and correctly apply what you read! We all would do well to engage ourselves in the task of rightly dividing (correctly interpreting and applying) the Word. Wherever and whenever we hear the word preached, taught, or otherwise discussed, we should adopt the attitude and practice of the believers who lived in Berea during the days of the Apostle Paul. In Acts 17:11 we read:  “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” (NLT) Now this is not to suggest that we should become overly skeptical in regard to what we hear, but rather that we should learn to become critical (analytical) thinkers. When it comes to your spiritual well-being, don’t take any person’s word for it just because of who they are or what position they might have. Be like the Bereans. Listen eagerly and intently, then search and study the Scriptures for yourself to see if what they are saying is really the truth!

When Absolutes Were Absolutely Absolute!

absolute shirtWhatever happened to the day when a man’s word was his bond? Whatever happened to the time when the truth was the truth and a lie was a lie and there was no confusion in differentiating between the two? Whatever happened to the days of absolutes?

The philosophical thinking that governs the social interactions between human beings in our society has shifted dramatically since the beginning to the last century. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the United States, most people functioned according to basic Judeo-Christian principles and common logic. Now, this is not to say that everybody was a Christian or an upright moral person. But, there were certain values and ideas, steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition that even non-Christians honored. Among these principles was the idea that there was such a thing as absolute truth. For example, if “A” was true and “B” was the exact opposite of “A,” then logic dictated that “B” could not be identical to “A” and hence, if “A” was indeed true, than logic and common sense dictated that “B” was false!

But, somewhere after the bitter reality of two World Wars, we sunk beneath the plane of moral absolutes and common logic. We now live in a time when truth has been transformed from something that was once absolute into something that is now relative! (By using the term: “relative” I mean something, of which the validity of is depended upon unsure and changing factors) The standard of behavior is no longer a clear-cut “black and white” issue, but has been smeared into a non-distinctive gray! For many, the truth is no longer a matter of fact, but merely a matter of popular public opinion! Moral character and integrity has been traded off for political, social and economic expediency. Today, it is considered more proper to be “politically correct” than just simply correct!

A generation ago, the virgin was normal, while the girl who had “been around” was shunned. Today, the girl who has “been around” is glamorized, while the girl (or boy) who is sexually pure is considered to be abnormal! There once was a time when homosexuality was thought to be sin, (by the way, God still calls it sin!) now it is just another of many alternative lifestyles! With the majority of society, drowning in the dark seas of relativism, those who believe in absolutes appear as lighted buoys, illuminating a channel of moral integrity that leads to the firm shore of absolute truth! But the sad reality is that instead of being attracted to the truth as moth are attracted to a light, men love darkness rather than light, so they run from the light into even greater darkness! What is truth? God’s Word is truth! Man may change; but the truth remains the same! If you want to have a firm foothold in a crumbling world, may I suggest that you plant your feet on the Rock! On Christ the Solid and Absolute Rock you can stand, all other ground is sinking sand! All other ground is sinking, shifting, transitory, relative, politically-correct, popular-opinionated sand!