My current reading plan jumps me around in the Bible quite a bit. I have a program that lets me develop my own. So, every day I read from four places in the Old Testament: law and history, Psalms, Proverbs, and the prophets. I read from two places in the New Testament: Gospels or Acts, and the Epistles.
Today, one of those random moments happened when some of my readings lined up. Psalm 18, Proverbs 4, Romans 10 and Matthew 12 all seemed to focus on the word, “word.” Psalm 18:30 says “the Word of the Lord is flawless.” Proverbs 4:4 regarding a father’s instruction to his sons, “Lay hold of my words with all your heart, my commands and you will live.” Jesus speaking in Matthew 12:36-37 says, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” And finally there is Romans 10: 8-10 “But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That 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.”
In this day of focus on being a more “missional” church, which I belive is important, we need not lose sight of the fact that while there may be truth in the addage, “deeds speak louder than words” it does not excuse the use of them. Words are important. What we say about who we are, about who we follow, about our neighbor, about our president, about our church, about our pastor, about our spouse, and about our children is held in high regard by God. For God knows that words can injure more deeply than any spear, and can empower even the weakest of people to do incredible things.
I find myself in complete opposition to St Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.” I think a more biblical saying might be, “While living out the Gospel your words will prove to be an everlasting testimony.”
Let’s think about it in this way. My children may always remember that I never missed an important moment in their lives. Shelbi will remember that I watched her first Spelling Bee competition. Baili will remember that I attended her last soccer game. All three girls will remember that every Valentine’s Day I delivered a flower to them at school. However, I think those moments will be remembered in the context of the conversations I have had with my children in times of instruction, discipline, and encouragement. I would even venture to suggest that my children hold more dearly those conversations, and that my actions are only the icing on the cake.
In this post-modern era where the actions of God seem to be muted by the science of man His words become even more important. Words like, “I loved you while you were still a sinner. I loved you so much I sent my Son, Jesus, to die in your place.” I wonder who, today, might be waiting to hear those words?