Words; February 14, 2023

2 Timpthy 1:2 To Timothy, my dear son:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

This chapter has several verses that are long-time favorites, but it struck me just now that this verse, which from our perspective seems like a somewhat stylized greeting, was actually anything but that. The Biblical evidence is that Paul had no one who was more “family” than Timothy, just as he calls him here his beloved son. You don’t write platitudes to someone like that! And that means that Paul didn’t consider his blessings, spoken or written, as formalities but as genuine impartations of the things mentioned. We take such things so lightly! How many people really think they are imparting blessing when they say, “Bless you,” after someone sneezes? We are not at all on the scale of God, who spoke the universe into being, but our words are not without meaning and impact. There are some who take this too far and get all hyper about “negative confessions” and the like, but the fact remains that God has given us the privilege of speaking His words after Him, and His words certainly have power. What we say and write to people is important. Recently social media have made it all too easy to broadcast our words to the world, but rather than considering the weight of that we tend to “run off at the mouth” and do all sorts of damage. It is very true that as James pointed out rather forcefully, words without actions are meaningless, but that doesn’t mean our words are unimportant. The old saying, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is actually quite untrue. Sometimes wounds from words last far longer than physical injuries. We need to speak and write intentionally, to convey the grace and love of God rather than anything less.

As I have written multiple times before, I am a man of words, and so this strikes very close to home. Frankly, I need to be reminded of it all too frequently! I have certainly hurt people with my words, at times intentionally, and I have no excuse for that. Growing up I felt very inadequate in sports and socially, and I covered that up with words. Now, as a pastor and teacher, you could say that I make my living with words. I need to be careful that my words impart value, yes, blessing, whatever the context. When Facebook notifies me of birthdays I seek to respond with genuine blessings, and the feedback indicates I often succeed. Even there I need to be careful I don’t just use “boiler plate” blessings, but sometimes, as Paul wrote to Timothy, even those can be genuine. In my preaching and my teaching I need to be open with all that God has poured into me, so that it may in turn accomplish God’s purposes in the lives of those who hear me. I have no power for good in and of myself, but God can use me as His agent, and that is good indeed.

Father, thank You for this reminder, and for the gift of words. May I make the use of that gift that You intend, communicating Your grace and love without distortion, for the blessing of all and for Your glory Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

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