After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
Thought and speech are God’s gifts to creatures made in His image; these are intimately asociated with Him and impossible apart from Him.
“Reading and writing are so boring and a waste of time.” “Why do we have to learn to talk? I already know how to.” As an English teacher for almost seven years, these comments are only scarce compared to the number of complaints I have received from teenagers about how reading, writing, speaking, and listening are difficult.
Battling communication is not a new problem for humans, but I believe between the war for our excellence in literacy and communication is harder today; with the pull for social media, TV, and gaming, we do ourselves a disservice by not practicing the patience and critical thinking we need in a culture that calls us away from God’s Word.
So, do our communication and literacy skills have any connection to our relationship with God? Does the Lord care if we read, speak, or listen well?
God Makes Himself Known through Words
From the beginning of time, God spoke life into being. In Genesis 1, the beginning of our story, Scripture says, “God said…” and then the “formless and empty” world was given life (Genesis 1:2,3).
God spoke with words, and life happened. As we continue in the Word, the Old Testament shows us that the Lord speaks to His people again and again to make His name known; whether it is speaking to Moses at the burning bush, using David to speak to the Israelites, or speaking to Prophets the truth of who Jesus is.
Not only does the Father speak, God believes words are so important He uses John to describe His Son, Jesus Christ, as “The Word” (John 1:1). Jesus is later told by Peter that He alone “has the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Jesus is the Word, and He is the only one who has the words for us to live by.
We find these “words of eternal life” in Scripture are described as “The Word of God” which is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The “Scriptures testify about [Jesus]” (John 5:39). By reading and meditating on the Word of God, we know Jesus Christ as our salvation.
Also, the Holy Spirit helps us understand and speak the Word. As we read Scripture, the Holy Spirit enlightens our hearts to the meaning of the words. Because we believe that these “words [are] not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit” we then need the Spirit to “interpret spiritual truths to [us]” (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Holy Spirit gives us wisdom on the truths God wants us to understand in the Bible.
So, if God speaks, Jesus is the Word, and the Spirit helps us understand the Word, this implies a call for the Church to uphold the Word and glorify the Lord in our understanding of the Word.
Church, We Are Called To Make Christ Known through the Word
The echoes of my students’ complaints about reading and communication weigh on my heart. As humans, we are prone to forgetting, being superficial in our ways, and being selfish in our wisdom.
Therefore, Church, we should be marked by critically meditating on and articulating correctly the Word of God.
We as believers should cultivate skills to make us better learners and communicators of Scripture so that He is most glorified. Through God’s common grace of literacy, the Holy Spirit can help us understand His Word. Church, we can do this by preaching and speaking the Word, by reading and meditating on the Word, and by listening to the Word of God.
How to Glorify God through Excellent Communication and Literacy:
1. Reading and Meditating on the Word Glorifies God
The Lord is glorified by accuracy, analysis, and critical thinking of the Bible. The Psalmist encourages, “his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
In order to meditate on Scripture, we have to know how to read well. We read the text for clarity by looking at the context, genre, language, and the people it was spoken to. Reading this way will take time and critical thinking, but then you will understand better.
We need to pause and ponder at His Word. As you read for understanding, this will allow you then to meditate, or chew on the words, as the Spirit speaks to you and helps you delight in His law.
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Dwelling on God’s Word after you read helps you glorify Him in your thoughts, and this eventually will lead to being able to speak the Word.
2. Preaching and Speaking the Word Glorifies God
Preachers and speakers that read and meditate on God’s Word are able to communicate the promises of our Great God! Martin Lloyd-Jones argued that “any true definition of preaching must say that that man is there to deliver the message of God.”
If a preacher is to fearfully communicate the message of God, it is imperative that preaching is rooted in Scripture. 2 Corinthians 2:13 says, “we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” The preacher’s call is to teach not human wisdom, but the words that God has written down in the Bible.
The means by which a preacher does this is studying the Scriptures. The accuracy of God’s Word is primary to the art of a preacher. A preacher accurately preaches by being a good student of the Scriptures himself, by studying context, language, people, and genres of the text.
In doing so, preachers confidently communicate what the Lord desires. These skills come from an understanding of how to deeply read the text. As God’s Word is rooted in our preaching, we can trust the Lord as Moses did that God, when God told him, “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (Exodus 4:12).
Although preaching is a gift God gives to only some believers, all Christians are called to speak the Word to one another. The Scriptures have a lot to say about our speech and communication. God’s Word calls us to speak to one another in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” using our words for “building up” in order it “might give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29, 5:19).
What beautiful commands! As we practice speaking to one another in this way, our love for one another and Christ grows. And as such, we glorify the Lord in our speech.
3. Listening to the Word of God Glorifies God
As we read, meditate, speak and preach the Word of God, we soon realize our “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
Jesus tells us, “my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). When we listen to Christ’s words, we know and follow Him. Through Him we receive eternal life.
Praise God! And as we listen to our Savior’s Word, we grow in our love for Him and we will be not only “hearers” but “doers of the word” as well (James 1:22). Listen intently to Jesus’s sweet words and the Holy Spirit will give desire, motivation, and power to live out His words.
So Church, as our human wisdom is frail, and our brains are lazy with our literacy and communication skills, let us look to the God who has made Himself known through words, and seek to glorify Him in how we make His eternal Word known.