“What did you say?”
If I heard my mother utter those words when I was a child, I knew that the rest of my day, or longer, was in imminent danger. I knew that I’d better find a very good answer to deflect the lecture my mother had already prepared in her mind ( I think she had files and files of them). She had this way of unleashing a verbal thrashing for speaking out of turn that I have never been able to duplicate in my life as a parent.
The worst thing I could say in such a situation was to actually repeat my usually sarcastic remark. Sometimes, if I had indeed dared to repeat myself, mom would ask again, “What did you say?” As if she was giving me another moment to reconsider my decision. I would come to myself and correct my words, fumbling around using some poor excuse such as, “What I meant was…”
No, you never wanted to cross my mother with your words. It didn’t matter that we lived in the USA, a nation that prides itself with everyone having the right to “freedom of speech.” Yes, I was foolish enough once to say to her that “freedom of speech” was my right as an American.
Those encounters with my mother taught me that freedom isn’t meant to be used thoughtlessly. Words are powerful: they can build up, tear down, create curiosity, defeat hope, and express either love or hate. How we use the power of words is our choice.
News comes and goes; from day to day we will hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of technology, we have access to bad news more than we do good news since bad news has a way of spreading like wildfire. Whenever I look at the news online or scan a social media feed, there is so much negativity being spread around – I wonder where are all the believers with the Good News? I know there are good things happening around the world – I see them here in Malawi daily. How have we gotten so wrapped up in the negativity of the day when we carry within us the Hope of the world? When we aren’t careful with what we say, we unleash the power of our words negatively.
Mark 11:23 NKJ “For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”
If all we speak is negativity, sarcasm, and cynicism the result will be negative, sarcastic, and cynical. I submit that we hear enough of all of that already – why not come into agreement with what God says instead? There’s power in agreeing with Him and His Word.
Matthew 18:19 NKJ “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.”
Popular opinion sways us very easily; God’s opinion, we acknowledge, is good but the situation on the ground “needs our voice.” I submit that our mountains, the troubles of our lives, this world, need to hear our voice as well. Our mountains need to know that their future is to be “swimming with the fishes” because we don’t have time to scale them, better they be removed than waste our time and energy climbing them.
Malachi 3:16 NKJ “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.”
We all know this world is in deep trouble. Every day brings a new crisis, an new rumour, a new scandal. Those troubles need to be talked about by us but in the right way – in a way that causes God to take notice of our words and actually record them. I doubt many of the words we speak about our world lately have been worthy of notation by God!
When we receive Christ, we are really free from the rules of speech that govern this world. In Christ we are free to bless and give Heaven’s viewpoint. In so doing, God takes notice. Hebrews 3:13 says that we should spend our time “exhorting one another.” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines exhort as “to urge, advise, or warn earnestly.” Exhortation takes on a different form in light of this. True freedom of speech comes when we allow ourselves to speak Heaven’s viewpoint. God takes note of these words and soon, we’ll find mountains flattened and valleys brought high as He makes His way plain for all the world to see.
Isaiah 40:4,5 NKJ “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”