Words; December 7, 2019

Hosea 14:2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.”

The Bible talks many times about how words alone are not enough, but at some times, some words are absolutely vital. Paul indicates that the moment of salvation is one of those times. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) Verbal confession of Jesus as Lord is vital, and verbal confession of sin to God is likewise vital. Everything material that we have comes from God in the first place, so giving it back to God, while important, affects us more than it does Him. Words, however, if they come from our heart, are genuinely something we can give to Him. The expression, “the fruit of our lips,” immediately calls to mind a verse I have known and loved for a long time: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15) For our words to be acceptable sacrifices, they must absolutely be sincere. This goes back to what I said first about words alone not being enough. As John the Baptist said, we need to “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) Words are essential, but we need to act in keeping with those words for them to be true.

This is a continuing major issue for me. I have had a gift for words most of my life, and growing up in the Church, I know all the “right words” to say. Accordingly, I know from painful experience that words alone aren’t enough. However, I must not let that distract me from the importance of words. After all, Jesus said, “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36) That really bites! Particularly when I have a gift for words, I need to be very careful that my every word is a gift back to God, holy and acceptable in His sight, to whomever it is spoken or written. That’s not at all to say that I am to be stiff and formal all the time. I’m convinced God has a sense of humor, because of how He made us! Several of the prophets, and even Jesus Himself, used puns to get their point across, and clean laughter is indeed very healing. As Paul said, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) I am to glorify God by blessing Him and those around me with my words, not letting any of them be empty or careless.

Father, thank You for this powerful Word. It really brings me back to basics. May my words indeed bring You praise, whether they are addressed to You or not. In other words, may my words cause those who receive them to praise You, for You alone are worthy of all praise. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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