Ecclesiastes 12:10: The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. (NKJV)
The right words are needed to communicate appropriately, and this is doubly so when communicating with people from different background from yours and from each other. And the aim of preaching is to encourage conceptual, attitudinal and behavioural change, which will not be possible without appropriate communication.
Jesus is the quintessential teacher (John 3:1-15). Nicodemus came to Jesus, who said to him that he needed to be born again. Nicodemus could not accurately interpret what Jesus meant. Jesus then broke it down for him. He thought Jesus was talking about a natural process whereby he was taking about a spiritual process. They do not have the same understanding and knowledge framework.
Jesus had the same problem with his disciples, so he told them, there are many things that I will want to tell you, but if I do I will merely be confusing you and not communicating to you and so there is no point to it (John 16:12-13). He therefore said that when the Holy Spirit comes he will lead them into all truth, he will be their personal teacher, indwelling them, leading them on in truth.
Paul charged Timothy to study to make himself approved as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15). That means he needs to take the pain to communicate rightly, by learning all he can and conveying it the best way he can.
The bible says a word fitly spoken is like an apple of gold in a setting of silver (Proverbs 25:11). That is a picture of beauty and we also read that the smoothness of speech enhances learning (Proverbs 16:21).
Every teacher must have a goal for a particular time of presentation; if you speak disjointedly, you will be wasting the time of the people. Beauty must be seen in your presentation. And beauty is appealing order and that takes some effort, which was what Paul meant when he told Timothy to “study.” That is the natural side of communication.
But there is a spiritual side. When Jesus said that the words that he speaks are Spirit and life, he was talking about the spiritual dimension (John 6:63).
The speaker must love the hearers hence the bible says that truth should be spoken in love (2Tmothy 2:15), because what is heard is not just the words spoken, but also why it is spoken, also the authority and intention of the speaker.
Jesus was able to discern the motivation of the words people speak. He distinguished between genuine enquiry and an attempt to test or trap him; between genuine concern for him and attempt to subjugate him, and make him fearful. This shows that words communicate not just thoughts but also intention (Hebrews 4:12). It communicates direction and rebuke.
A man that does not want to hear the rebuke of the word of God is digging a grave for himself. He who rejects the word of God, rejects God and by extension set himself up for divine rejection. That was what Adam and Eve did in the wilderness and got into so much trouble.
When we accept the word of God; that is the beginning of the change. When Mary said to the angel, let it be to me according to your word, it changed her life (Luke 1:38).
The bible says that there is that speaks like the piercing of the sword, but the tongue of the wise tends to life (Proverbs 12:18). David prayed: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Oh God (Psalm 19:14). So not only should our words be acceptable to man, meaning they were accurate in communicating the words of our mouth, and they do not harm others, they should be acceptable to God. Paul said that no word of coarse jesting should come from our mouth (Ephesians 5:4).
Jesus never said a word amiss, but his words were not always pleasant. He conveys his rebuke to people through sharp words, not showing concern about how the words made the people feel but how they accurately diagnose what ails them and communicate the direction they need to go.
God sent prophets time and again to the people of Israel, with severe warning and rebuke. God told Ezekiel: if I send you to warn a sinner to change, it is your responsibility to do that or else if the sinner is judged for his sins and you did not want him, you will be held responsible. God was not going to let him go easily, speaking his word is serious business (Ezekiel 3:17-34).
The bible says that if you have the word of God, you should declare it faithfully (Jeremiah 23:28). God told Jeremiah that he need to speak his word and not be afraid of the faces of the people (Jeremiah 1:8). He should not bother about how the word he is given. Along the line, he was imprisoned and put in a pit for a long time, and minimally fed.
Another prophet Micaiah was asked to give the divine perspective about the war that king Ahab wanted to embark on. Because what he said did not line up with what the king wanted he had him jailed. It seemed that his only fault is saying the truth, being true to his calling to speak the truth (1Kings 22:8-37).
Jeremiah was in so much distress that he said he was not going to continue with speaking the words of God, but he said that the words were like fire shut up in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9). When God called Isaiah he declared that he is a man of unclean lips living among people of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:1-10). But he experienced the fiery purging presence of God and he was commissioned with a special message to his generation.
The Holy Spirit filling us helps us to speak the right words. We do not know how we ought to speak as we should, but the Holy Spirit is helps our infirmity especially in the place of prayer (Romans 8:26). Paul said what that is one of our weakness, in the place of prayer to not know what to say as we ought to.
And when we speak in tongues we are speaking to God in the spirit, with our spirit (1Corinthians 14::2, 4). With that, you cannot pray amiss, and we make the right impact in the realm of the spirit. We speak acceptable words.
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- Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (emmanuelchatham.typepad.com)
- Baptized with Fire (holyspiritactivism.wordpress.com)