Words of Life; May 23, 2020

Deuteronomy 32:45-47 When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, he said to them, “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you–they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

Moses said this sort of thing more than once to the people he led out of Egypt. They were the very definition of a motley crew, used to multiple pagan gods and very little personal responsibility, since they were slaves and had to do as they were told. Moses wanted to give up on them multiple times, and even God threatened to do so one time, in order to make Moses realize just what that would mean. (Exodus 32:9-10) The Holy Spirit was not yet given as an indwelling Presence, so all Moses could do was give the people God’s words, and he certainly did that. The first half of verse 47 is very important: “They are not just idle words for you – they are your life.” This is true of the whole Bible, and there is a well-loved hymn that says, “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.” Sadly, people have tried to twist those words in various ways down through the centuries. Modern scholarship has made for more accurate translations, but some people have misused those tools to make the Bible say what they want it to, instead of what God has said. When that happens, it ceases being words of life! God’s words are of utmost importance, since He spoke the universe into existence. (Genesis 1, Isaiah 55:10-11) We are likewise cautioned many times in the Bible to be careful of what we speak, because our words, too, are to be words of life. We of course do not have the creative power of God, but we can speak out what He is saying, bringing blessing, healing, growth, and provision. When we can do that, why would we speak hurt and futility? (James 3:9-10) We need to be people of God’s words, His Word, for blessing and for His glory.

I have always been a person of words, but they certainly haven’t always been God’s words of life! From at least my teenage years I used words as a weapon, since I had been hurt by the words of others and I wanted retribution. I don’t remember specific examples, but I do remember the attitude. When I was preparing to enter college my father acknowledged my gift for words, but cautioned me that even when words are used as a scalpel, they must never be contaminated with anger or envy or the like, but rather ultimately bring healing. In the years since he wrote those words I have tried to abide by them, with varying success, but it continues to be a goal of mine. I have a strong awareness of what an incredible privilege it is to speak God’s words after Him, and I desire that my words would indeed be a fountain of life in Christ, for the salvation of many and for His glory alone.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me indeed keep my mouth and my fingers in full submission to You, so that the words that come forth from them may Yours indeed, with all that means, for Your glory. 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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