Words; May 17, 2022

Acts 2:14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.”

This was as much a work of the Holy Spirit as what had just gone before, and in some ways was just as astonishing. Peter, an ignorant fisherman with a track record of sticking his foot in his mouth and making a mess of things, here delivers a clear, even scholarly explanation to the crowd not only of what they had just witnessed, but of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Scriptures he quoted were spot on, and the effect on his hearers was dramatic. In the days, weeks, and years following he went on to earn a reputation as someone who indeed spoke the words of God. We can be pretty confident that here he was speaking Aramaic, because 2nd Peter shows that his Greek skills never rose very high, but that’s part of the miracle: God took him as he was and used him powerfully as a vital part of the establishment of the Church, not because of him but in spite of him and all his faults. We have no idea how much his grammar was cleaned up in this transcription, particularly because the record we have is in Greek rather than in Aramaic, but we do know what God did through His words which He spoke through Peter. I personally think that the experience of denying three times that he even knew Jesus, and then being forgiven after the resurrection, was an essential part of preparing Peter for this moment. He had zero confidence in himself, which enabled him to be totally yielded and available to the Lord. To whatever degree we draw back from letting God use us, we are looking at ourselves and our circumstances instead of at Christ. (Hebrews 12:2)

In some ways I have had the opposite problem. As many have recognized from my youth, God gifted me in terms of words and language. However, that was no guarantee that my output had any value! I have used words to amuse and entertain, which is fine but not vital. I have used words to lash out and hurt, which is certainly reprehensible. I have used words to confuse deliberately, which is the opposite of their purpose. I have gloried in the power of words, instead of in the One who enabled me to produce them. Occasionally I have used words as God has indeed intended them, lifting people up, healing them, and drawing them closer to their Creator. As good as that feels, you’d think I’d try to do it more consistently! I do seek to do that, but I’m acutely aware that I have a lot of room to grow in my availability to God. I want my words to echo His, working His will in my hearers, both those I can see and those I can’t. I’m to speak His words to principalities and powers, as well as to the physical people around me. (Ephesians 6:12) The moment I try to do that in my own strength and wisdom it becomes ineffective, but God is big enough and powerful enough to use even me, if I will allow Him to do so.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s sobering! Between school teaching and church preaching, it could be said that I make my living with words. May they be living words indeed, Your Words, bringing light and life to those who hear, for their salvation and 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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