“The LORD has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.” (Isaiah 50:4)
Words are important instruments. Even the smallest word has value and conveys meaning when used properly. They can cut or heal, inspire or demean, cause us to rise to our potential or push us down to the very depths of “hell”.
When placed properly we will tolerate large quantities of words crafted into a story, such as War and Peace. When constructed poorly, we will seldom give them a second glance.
For Christians even the word “word” is important. It carries its own weight in meaning and significance: “The Word became flesh…”
I raise this topic for a couple of reasons. One is a result of my venturing into the book of Revelation. There, words are regularly used to convey symbolic meaning. The second is because often times, in the context of Christian “teaching”, we may use words too casually. Let me illustrate.
In a recent Bible Study class the instructor said, “Steve may receive a revelation from God regarding….” Of course you do not own the context of that statement, but I do and I immediately thought, “What kind of revelation could Steve receive?” Does God still offer revelations?
When I think of a “revelation” – I think of a divine disclosure; Something that could not be learned by any other means. I am not certain God still does “revelation” any longer. If we just take it on face value, in the book of Revelation itself we are told there is rather harsh judgment for adding to or taking away from God’s word or prophecy. (22:18-19)
Now perhaps the instructor meant, Steve “felt lead to…”, or “after praying it became clear what God wanted…”. These are fairly common phrases used to express how we sense God’s leading in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Many are innocuous and have a rather widely accepted understanding. However, that is not what was said. Which, is my point.
I read a recent article in the local newspaper about the Second Coming of Christ. When I finished the article, I was not sure what the author wanted to convey. What was it that he wanted me to learn, know, or understand from reading his article? So, I wrote and asked him. I don’t think I should have had to do that.
For myself, I am learning how to use words properly. I fail miserably at times. Nevertheless, all of us are managers or stewards of our words. Those who choose to be teachers, writers, communicators of truth, are held to a stricter standard in that role – James 3:1, 2 Tim. 2:15, Eph. 5:6. If that is your role, I applaud your challenge and commitment. If your role is different than that, you still are a manager of words. You still impact people with what you “say”. (James 3:5ff) Let’s all be more careful.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. (Proverbs 15:7)