We live in a day of fake everything. There are so many lies from so many places that truth is becoming a very rare thing and trust is based on agreement. What if we couldn’t lie? What if every word that came out of anyone’s mouth was only the honest expression of what they sincerely believed was the truth?
Your wife puts on an outfit and asks, “Honey, does this make me look fat?” What’s the honest answer husbands? Here’s the right answer where love and truth kiss each other: “Sweetheart, I love you more than life, and you are always beautiful to me!” That IS the right answer; right, wives?
Well, in a culture that has made truth less important than feelings it appears that the worst sin today is the sin of offending someone. Truth is sacrificed on the alter of comfortable feelings. This was not always the case.
In our study on prayer let’s take a look at what God shows us about the seriousness of our words. We will take one harsh example and follow up with a few helpful scriptures.
This week’s reading took us through Jephthah’s story in the book of Judges, remember? Jephthah’s whole story is a sad one to me. He was a son of a prostitute and his brothers rejected him from the family and from his home town. He eventually became a sort of gang leader, warrior and gained a reputation as one with power. When foreign enemies attacked his home region of Gilead, the leaders of Gilead invited him back to help them fight their battles. Doubting their sincerity, he made them promise to accept his leadership. They agreed and he came and effectively dealt with their enemies the Ammonites. Our example comes from when Jephthah entered the battle with Ammon. What did he do? Jephthah made a vow to the Lord to offer as a sacrifice and burnt offering whatever came out of his house when he returned. Most of us know this story. It’s a tragic one. The Lord gave Jephthah victory over Ammon, but when he returned home, who should come out to greet him with tambourines and dancing, but his only child, his daughter?
Now remember, what was Jephthah’s vow? I just heard on WMBW yesterday that Jephthah didn’t actually kill and sacrifice his daughter, because that would be an abomination. What he did was keep her from marriage, so that he had no heirs, because she was his only child. I understand the problem here, but that’s not what the Bible says. It’s true that she never married, but that was not Jephthah’s vow. Did Jephthah perform on his vow as he spoke or not? Let me read his own words to God again: Judges 11:31-32. What was Jephthah thinking? Is it any wonder that Jesus’ teaching on vows is this: You have heard it said, “Do not swear falsely, but keep the oaths you make to the Lord,” but I tell you, do not swear at all, either by heaven for it is God’s throne, or by the earth, for it is His footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white of black. But let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.” Anything beyond this is of the evil one. And James 5:12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let you yes be yes and your no, no, that you may not fall under condemnation.
Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 23:21-23
King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 5:1-7.
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said: Matthew 12:33-37
Based on these scriptures (and these are just a few we could consider) we see that God takes our words, and especially our vows seriously. What comes out of our mouth either blesses or curses, our words can either glorify God or they can grieve Him. By our words we are justified, and by our words we are condemned, said Jesus.
Application: Just how seriously do you take your talk? Generally, when we pray, we take our words more seriously than we do in common conversation, wouldn’t you agree? The Bible tells us as Christians to pray without ceasing, and to pray in the Spirit at all times and in all occasions. James tells us: if we’re happy praise God, if we are in trouble, pray to Him. What if we considered every word that comes out of our mouths a word of prayer? How might that change our language and conversations? What if we took our talk as seriously as God takes His words? When God chose to reveal Himself to us in the most intimate and personal way possible, notice how He describes Himself as we read in John 1:1-3, 14.
I am beginning to see in the scriptures that a good study on prayer begins with a good study on our use of words, period, all the time and in every place where we speak. And our language should line up with God’s word always, not just in prayer. Just as our lives should reflect Him and His presence.
Jesus said, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.
Our talk and walk needs to be in step with the Spirit of God. Our lives and language need to honor our God and reflect Him to those around us. When we segregate our prayer language and our conversational language, we betray that we are hypocrites, worshipping in vain as we practice life and language outside of worship with a different standard, as if God is distant when we are not in church or having our heads bowed in prayer. Next week, Lord willing, we will look more into oaths and vows in prayer.
Let’s say this prayer of scripture together as a close to this lesson:
Psalm 19 Notice how much of this Psalm is about words: words about God and words from God, and how it ends in devotional prayer about our words and hearts before God.