I have tackled the task of learning Spanish. Up till now, my expertise has been limited to “taco,” “burrito,” and “refried beans;” but now I want to expand my skills to teach the word of God to those who speak in a language different from my own. It has given me a whole new appreciation for the “old dogs and new tricks” adage. Speaking in tongues would sure be handy right now.
This effort might fail, but I am giving it a shot. They seem to be simply words, but they pack a powerful punch. Whatever the language, they have the capacity to build up or tear down. Christians use words in different ways. We are surrounded by a world that is crude, at best. Profanity flies at the drop of a hat. Obscenities flood the internet. People adjust their vocabulary according to the audience. Apparently, they forget that the Lord’s ears are always open (Psalm 139:4).
He is a God who is aware. He is not deaf. He heard the cries of the Israelites when they were in bondage. He hears our prayers. We are comforted by that thought, but He does not suddenly lose His ability to hear when we speak out in anger. That may not by very comfortable for us. He is listening when we launch a verbal assault or tell that shady joke. Jesus put our conversation in its proper place (Matthew 12:35-37). It is very serious to Him.
Words. We string them together to form sentences that communicate ideas, thoughts that originate deep within us. We should never take that lightly. God doesn’t. He has much to say about how we speak, especially those who have been adopted into His family. An integral aspect of Christian character is honesty. As Paul instructed the Ephesians to put on the new man, His first lesson was about truthful speech (Eph. 4:25). It is not an “oh-by-the-way” but leads the list. The devil hatches a brood of liars (John 8:44). God’s children are not like that. Dishonesty is never a family trait.
Most everyone we meet is bearing some kind of private burden. The last thing they need is for us to drag them further down with discouraging words. We speak words of grace. They comfort and encourage. Our audience may only be one struggling soul (Don’t forget God is listening, too!), and they may be totally unworthy of kind words but isn’t that what grace is all about; receiving what is undeserved?
Rather than joining the chorus of the ungrateful, we should express thanksgiving. It is the perfect substitute for the coarseness that is so common (Ephesians 5:4). The word of God reminds us that we should always be thankful (Eph. 5:20). Imagine how life would be if everyone spoke only gracious words of encouragement and gratitude. They won’t, but we can and should in every language. We must. Muchas gracias.