Friday, June 20, 2008

The Tongue of the Learned

"The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary..." (Isa.50:4a)

A good mind is a gift from God, but the ability to communicate well is a learned trait. Both carry with them an awesome responsibility. If, as the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword, only a fool would take this verbal advantage lightly. I see two simple but important guidelines for us in this verse from Isaiah.

First, it is important to realize that words are like tomatoes; they can be gotten most any time, but they're much better "in season." Truth is always truth, but it isn't always pertinent. Giving accurate, but dismal, cancer statistics to a woman waiting on the results of a biopsy could hardly be considered "a word fitly spoken" (Prov.25:11). Even sharing insight you may feel God has given you on spiritual matters must fall under the same guideline. For as Paul attests in 1 Corinthians 3:2, some "are not able to bear it." A word of edification or encouragement shared at the proper time, place, and situation, however, can be meat to a hungry soul and a balm to "him that is weary." Which leads me to the second guideline.

In the final analysis, what we say should ease burdens, not add to them. This is not to say that reproof and instruction are never necessary or appropriate. On the contrary, helping a friend weighed down with unconfessed sin find a place of forgiveness, lifts the heaviest of all burdens. But it is easy to make a hobby of this, if we’re not careful, so that every real (or supposed) lapse of faith is pounced on with eloquent pseudo-piety. This helps no one and is a major waste of a good vocabulary!

I love words—passionately. It is one of the ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to us, along with His Creation and Jesus Christ. In fact, it just happens to be one of His names (John 1). We should do all we can to learn to speak well, because we have Someone so wonderful to speak of. To the end, says Isaiah, that we may “speak a word in season to him that is weary.”

No comments:

Post a Comment