The words we speak

Written by Charles Ekong

17/06/2024

John 3:16 is probably the first Bible verse many Christians memorise. Looking back, I think my second was the first part of Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Although, it was a classic case of knowledge without understanding. I knew the verse but not its implications. As such, I didn’t practice it [James 1:22]. Even when I stumbled upon Jesus’ warning about careless words [Matthew 12:37] and James’s discourse on the tongue [James 3:1-12], it was all mental assent until recently. Many of us don’t realise we’re the first beneficiaries or victims of our words because they’re a composite of what we believe and act on, ultimately shaping our lives. So, if you are struggling in any area of life, what are you saying?

Controlling the tongue is a recurring exhortation in the Old Testament, Gospels, and Epistles. So, it’s crucial for God’s children. Our words don’t just shape our lives here on Earth; they influence our eternal destiny. Unfortunately, for many of us, our words, especially what we say about ourselves, have become our greatest enemy. This week, I hope to encourage all of us to carefully examine the words that come out of our mouths and make the necessary adjustments. It’s not enough to acknowledge this doctrine in our minds; we must meditate on it until it becomes a revelation in our spirits so that, like David, we’ll earnestly implore our Lord to set a guard over our mouths [Psalm 141:3] and then cooperate with His grace to keep our lips in check. 

Jesus said some of the strongest words on what we say about others [Matthew 7:1-4]. So, sometimes, we’d do well to remain silent regarding others. But if we must speak, it’s imperative we filter our words through Philippians 4:8. However, in this blog, I want to focus more on what we say about ourselves and our circumstances through the lens of Mark 11:13-14, 20-24. Speaking in that passage, after His disciples were astonished that the fig tree He’d cursed the day before had withered, Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him” [Mark 11:23]. So, the divine law is that we’ll have what we believe and say, positive or negative, victory or defeat. Therefore, ensuring we only say what we desire is in our best interest. 

We generally say things we believe, want others to believe about us, or think we believe about ourselves. Often, we may only know which when we face a dilemma. Adversity always reveals our true convictions because we’ll only act on what we genuinely believe when our lives are on the line. In those challenging seasons, we’ll either say things as they are, say things that are as though they aren’t or say things that aren’t as though they are, i.e. call for a manifestation of what we desire. So, going back to Jesus’s words, when we encounter a mountain, we can say: “There’s a mountain in my way. My race is run, and there’s nothing I can do.” Or say: ”There’s no mountain” when a mountain is evidently impeding our progress. Or say to the mountain: “Be taken up and thrown into the sea so I can proceed”. While we all desire the third scenario, our real convictions about the mountain will ultimately determine our words and actions. 

Interestingly, people often applaud us for being realistic and courageous when we say things as they are. We may even attract sympathy. But ultimately, if our words reinforce a negative, where’s the gain? Conversely, some people deny reality out of fear and may be ridiculed for saying what is isn’t so.  Faith isn’t employed in either approach. Therefore, such stances cannot please God [Hebrews 11:6]. God has imbued us with the power to change any situation incongruent with His word, but we don’t achieve that by ignoring, denying or embracing a negative reality. We must speak to the mountain. God Himself showed us how to deal with adverse situations on the first page of the Bible. He saw chaos on the Earth and called for order [Genesis 1:2-3]. He didn’t complain about or deny the chaos. He spoke what He desired. As such, we, too, must say what we want when we encounter chaos. However, there’s a caveat: there must be no doubt in our hearts (spirits) when we speak. 

Jesus once said: “…Out of the abundance of the heart (spirit), a man speaks” [Luke 6:45]. So, although our words are important, what determines their efficacy is what’s in our hearts. When God spoke in Genesis 1, He didn’t doubt the outcome. Abraham recognised and adopted this pattern as he waited for a son [Romans 4:17-21]. Even in changing his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of nations), God was teaching Abraham to call into manifestation what was not, which he did every time he introduced himself [Genesis 17:5]. That’s the God kind of faith; even a mustard seed equivalent of it moves mountains [Matthew 17:20], and God has given every born-again believer a measure of this faith [Romans 12:3]. So, our challenge is neither the mountain nor the faith and power to move the mountain, but unbelief – which eventually manifests in our words if it’s present. 

The God kind of faith comes by hearing His word [Romans 10:17]. So, our responsibility as believers is to place ourselves in positions to listen to and meditate on God’s word until it overwhelms our innate unbelief and then speak that word to every mountain opposing God’s will for our lives. Scripture tells us that angels are standing by to enforce what we say in faith according to God’s word [Psalm 103:20, Hebrews 1:14]. I want to take advantage of that, don’t you?

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