Lately, there have been three distinct themes in my life:

  • a conversation with someone about “fear of the Lord” and how it impacts our lives
  • my recent Bible readings of Israel and Judah before and as they were being exiled along with the contemporary prophets of that time (chronological reading is coming in very handy)
  • a couple of conversations where people are contemplating whether to approach others with the truth, speculating whether it will be heard in vain

In a lot of ways, this isn’t unusual. It seems lately that God has kept the prophets in the back of my mind for a reason. So many times the prophets were told to give a message and God even states that the people won’t likely listen to it. Yet God charged them to speak anyway. At the end of the day, whether we think our actions or words will be ineffective or a waste of time isn’t really our decision. When God charges us to speak a message, it needs to be spoken, no matter how hard it is. (That doesn’t mean we don’t attempt to communicate at our best, that we just flippantly blurt out whatever we think we want to say. Rather, we communicate the message as best with as much grace as possible, yet leave the results with God.)

The flip side of this is that too many times there are some of us who speak too abrasively. We seem to think that anything coming from our mouths is “a word from the Lord” when really it’s our own opinions or perspectives. We think we’re speaking God’s truth when really we’re spewing out our own agenda, our own ideas (attributing them to God). This is a grave danger because 1. we’re blinded by our own arrogance and 2. we’re delusional. So even if God were to correct, unless our attitude and mindset changes, we’re really in the same boat as the people to whom we are judging.

This is where “the fear of the Lord” comes in. When we speak on behalf of God, we must realize that the magnitude of what we’re suggesting. I think sometimes many of us speak with a false sense of pride (perhaps even arrogance). But to speak God’s word or God’s truth contains a sense of profound fear that challenges us to make sure we have it right in the first place. (Because if we’re wrong, the consequences are disastrous both for the audience and the speaker.) This isn’t limited to sermons or public addresses, but includes personal conversations as well. So many times God warns that there were prophets who kept giving the people what they wanted to hear yet claimed to speak for God (when they weren’t). They evaluated their performance based on what the audience wanted to hear, not what God wanted to communicate. Whether this was intentional or delusional, it was false.

It’s one thing to have a personal opinion; we’re all entitled to that. However, it’s different when we claim to speak for God. When we do that, we had better make sure through much prayer and discernment that this is God’s message. That being said, once it is confirmed as God’s message, we must deliver it, whether or not we feel it will be effective or well-received. That part isn’t our concern.

Woe is me if I do not speak the words God has given me.

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