“Word” Focus - God’s “Word”
One of my favorite descriptions of God is “The Word.” In every form of “the Word” that applies to God, we come to understand more of His nature and His desire to be with us, His creation. The Word is a very personal description of God as it conveys His desire to communicate with those He created. God is revealed through His spoken word, written Word, and as the Living Word.
- God’s spoken word resulted in the creation of the world. When God spoke, creation happened. See Genesis 1. In creation of man, God took special involvement as in conjunction with His statement, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), He formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).
- Throughout history, God has revealed Himself through His word. He has preserved His written word so that people could learn about Him by reading it. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). See also Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 24:35, 2 Timothy 3:16.
- So that we could discover the incredible measure of the love of God, He sent us the Living Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . (John 1:1, 14). Jesus told His disciples if they wanted to see and know God, they must look to Him (John 14:9-11). See also John 6:63, John 6:68.
God speaks through all three persons of His Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself in many different ways. God . . . at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1). His Word tells us that God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son (Hebrews 1:2). Jesus, the Son, promised that the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name . . . will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26). [Emphasis-author’s].
The apostle Paul provides a picture of spiritual resources in Ephesians 6. Every part of the spiritual armor (belt, breastplate, shoes, shield and helmet) is protective or defensive except for one. Understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, Paul described the one offensive part as the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). God’s word is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). When a person trusts in the Living Word, His Spirit provides what is necessary for protection and an offensive stand in the battle against evil (Ephesians 6:11).
Questions for Reflection:
- Do you believe that God spoke the world into existence? A preacher friend made the following statement in a sermon based on Genesis 1.
“What you believe about Genesis 1:1 determines what you believe about God. If you believe it, you are a ‘theist.’ If not, you are an ‘atheist.’ God is mentioned thirty two times in this chapter. The beginning of faith is faith in the beginning. Everything in the Bible is interpreted in light of Genesis 1:1. We must admit the prior existence of God – outside, above and superior to His creation” (Joe Music).
- How important is the Bible, God’s written Word, to you? Reflect on Psalm 119:11and 2 Timothy 3:16.
- Why do you think that John described Jesus as “The Word?” Notice also the description of Jesus in Revelation 19:13.
- How can you use the word of God to defend yourself against temptation? Examine Jesus’ example in His experience in the wilderness (Matthew 4).
A Reflection of What We Think About God
God made it clear in the book of Job that what we say about Him is important to Him. “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).
James spends much of his letter giving instruction about the value of how we use our words. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless (James 1:26). If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. . . . Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire. . . . But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things out not to be so (James 3:2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10).
A.W. Tozer said, “The most important thing about us is what we think of God.” What we think of God will become evident in our words and our actions. Our words to God are our prayers; our words to others are a reflection of our relationship to God. Our most important words are those spoken to God and about God. That truth was evident in Isaiah’s confession: “Woe to me, for I am undone! I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).
Input = Output
Most everyone understands that you only get from your computer those things that have been programmed into it. The same is true of speech. If there is a large “data base” in your mind of foul talk, then it is likely at some point that will come out of your mouth. How much care should be taken to internalize the Word of God so that edifying words are easily accessible.
Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34b-37).
Paul told the Ephesian church, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen . . . .Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving (Ephesians 4:29,5:4 NIV). Hearing God’s words, hiding them in our hearts, will then enable us to use His words to benefit others. Great care should be taken before we speak. Words, once said, cannot be taken back.
Silence or Speech?
How many times have you heard “Silence is golden”? Consider these quotes:
- “I regret often that I have spoken, never that I have been silent” (Syrus, 1st century BC).
- “The first duty of love is to listen” (Paul Tillich).
- “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
- When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise (Proverbs 10:19 NIV).
- Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue (Proverbs 17:28 NIV).
If your personality leans toward being quiet anyway, this is not as hard for you as it is for others. However, for some, silence is torture! So, what can we conclude from this? Should we always be silent? Is silence truly golden?
What about the proverbs that say: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (25:11 NKJ) and Gold there is and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel (20:15 NIV)?
The Bible does not say that God is pleased with only silence. Remember God’s call to Moses? God was very displeased when Moses begged not to speak on God’s behalf. Moses attempted to refuse the call several times. In Exodus 4:10-16 we see God’s frustration with Moses’ reluctance.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14). The truth of the gospel is most often communicated through words.
Silence is “golden” if that is God’s will at the moment. Jesus is our example in how to live. There were times when He kept silent. We learned about Him and the possibility of reconciling to God through His love and sacrifice, however, through not only His deeds, but His words. We know about God because of the things that Jesus said and did. Christ is the Living Word: God personified. His word tells us that whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).
Integrity must define our actions and our speech. Two of the Ten Commandments deal directly with our speech: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord . . . you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor (Exodus 20:7, 16 NIV). Jesus said, “Anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:21b-22 NIV).
The book of Proverbs is filled with guidelines about speech. Look at these positive and negative contrasts. Pay attention not only to the fact that the wise man is careful about his speech, but his words have great influence on others. The opposite is also true. The foolish man does not care for himself or the consequences of his speech. What about you? How do you want your speech to be described by others?
Our Words – A Study of the Contrasts in Proverbs
Edify/Build up Tear Down/Destroy
For further study on the importance of words in the book of Proverbs, see the following verses:
Positive: 12:14; 15:23; 15:39; 16:13; 16:21; 16:23; 16:24; 17:27-28; 18:4; 18:20; 20:15; 21:23; 22:11; 23:15-16; 24:26; 25:11; 25:12; 25:15; 25:25; 31:26.
Negative: 10:18; 14:7; 16:27; 16:28; 17:4; 17:7; 17:14; 17:19; 17:20; 18:6; 18:7; 18:8; 18:13; 18:23; 19:5; 19:9; 19:22; 19:28; 20:19; 20:20; 21:6; 21:9; 21:19; 21:28; 24:2; 24:7; 24:28; 25:18; 25:23; 26:6; 26:7; 26:9; 26:20; 26:22-25; 26:28.
The tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21).
The Scripture quotations in Proverbs are from the NIV.Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
All other Scripture quotations (unless noted otherwise) are from the NKJV. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© Stephanie B. Blake