A Word in Season
The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. (Isaiah 50:4)
One particular assignment in my college sculpture class was to hand sculpt out of clay, some quirky or conventional characteristic of our personality. My tendency back then to say the wrong thing at the wrong time made my choice an easy one—open mouth, insert foot. If I recall correctly, my sculpted head with a foot in its big mouth brought a chuckle among classmates and a good grade from my professor.
Although that was a lifetime ago, for me to choose open mouth, insert foot as my motto in life, I must’ve had an inkling as to the power of my words. Today, as a Christian, it’s more than an inkling. That’s why Isaiah 50:4 is one of my constants in prayer. I touched on this subject in an earlier blog, but it’s so worth revisiting.
The Lord GOD has given me . . . Speaking right things doesn’t come naturally. Left to its own natural inclinations, the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity . . . (James 3:2–12).
That’s why we need the tongue of the learned . . . Our mouths (tongues) are our glory. With them we speak with God; we worship God. O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory . . . (Psalm 108:1).
The Good News of the Gospel is largely spread through speaking. Preach the word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable . . . (2 Timothy 4:2).
Our tongues are to speak life, not death, blessing, not cursing—to ourselves, to others, and to God (Proverbs 18:21; James 3:10). That’s not easy. It takes a lifetime of rigorous Holy Spirit training. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body . . . Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body (James 3:3). The Bible teacher, Charles Capps, wrote in his book God’s Creative Power, “. . . Jesus said to me, ‘I have told my people THEY CAN HAVE WHAT THEY SAY and THEY ARE SAYING WHAT THEY HAVE’. Yikes! Lord, we need Your Spirit’s bit in our mouths to guide our words.
That I should know how to speak . . . Have you ever spoken truth to someone and later thought of a better, perhaps less-harsh way you could’ve made your point? What about those coulda-shoulda-woulda instant replays our minds conduct after our well-meaning words go south? We know better than to entertain those thoughts, but we do.
There really is a ‘how to’ to speaking truth. Jesus cornered the market (so to speak) on knowing the ‘how to’s' of talking to others. People were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips (Luke 4:22). It is said of Jesus in Psalm 45:2, You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
We are instructed to Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you] (Colossians 4:6). Proverbs 25:11 says, A word fitly spoken (at the proper time) is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Benson Commentary explains it like so: “. . . weighty and hidden meanings are as much commended by a concise and well-turned speech, as apples, exquisite for their color, appear more lovely and appealing when they shine through the network of a silver basket.”
A word in season . . . There truly is a time to be quiet, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Not every revolutionary thought or idea that springs to mind is to be broadcast to others. All thoughts and ideas need to be prayed over, asking God if and when they should be shared with anyone other than Him. That way, we can indeed be led by His Spirit when we speak.
To him who is weary . . . Who hasn’t experienced weariness? These are increasingly hard days we’re living in. Hordes of people are worn slick with sickness, sin, oppression, hardship, trial, you name it. We can scarcely catch our breath between waves. Start a conversation with someone—anyone—and you’ll find they’re battling some measure of weariness.
He awakens me morning by morning; He awakens my ear to hear as the learned . . . Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Hearing isn’t a one-time awakening of our ear when we come into the faith. An awakened ear is a trained ear that develops through our morning-by-morning communing with Jesus. It takes time to listen for His voice—not because He’s the silent type who rarely speaks, but because we must learn to Shh! be still for a minute so we can hear Him.
And I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away . . . I prefer warm and fuzzy words, myself. But God doesn’t always speak warm and fuzzy. His Word brings life. They bring change.
Jesus knew there were some spiritually thirsty folks in the Samaritan town of Sychar—one woman in particular. That’s why He chose to meet her at Jacob’s well (John 4:16–42). Who would’ve ever guessed that His word in season to her, “You have had five husbands, and the man you are now living with is not your husband,” would be the catalyst for her and her city to come drink of the Living Water?
When the rich ruler—a devout man, obedient to God’s Law since his youth—asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus (with surgical precision), cut to the heart of the matter. . . . sell all that you have, and distribute to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me (Luke 18:18–23). His word in season brought to light the ruler’s true heart treasure. And it wasn’t God as he supposed. That man needed a Savior, not more rules to live by.
Ephesians 4:15 says to Speak the truth in love. Difficult truths need to be shared, but how do we share them when someone’s razor-wire defenses are up? We do it in love. Medicine goes down far easier when it’s administered in love. I’ll receive a corrective word from someone who approaches me in a kind and gentle manner far quicker than someone flinging harsh reprimands. Convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching doesn't always make one popular (2 Timothy 4:2). But are we out to win a popularity contest? Or do we obey God?
Lord, we acknowledge that our words have power. So, we ask that You give us the tongue of the learned that we would know what precise word You are speaking to others, and how and when to speak it. What part of Your Good News can we pass on today to the weary and oppressed, to those who are poor in spirit or in body? What is that one, in-season word from You that will shift their difficult situation for the better?
Train our ears to hear Your voice. Teach us to correctly handle Your Word of Truth. Grace us to speak in love the word you give us.
Grant us obedient hearts to follow through with Your instructions so that we don't draw back in the face of opposition or shirk our duties like Jonah. Shape us into confident ministers of reconciliation and healing to those you send us to.
In Jesus’ name