Today’s reading is Jeremiah 14:11-16:15, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 25:1-5.
We are well into the book of Jeremiah, and I can’t claim to understand it all. In very simplistic terms, Jeremiah is called by God to speak to God’s people. He is called to speak difficult words and difficult warnings. Judgement is coming upon the people and God is yearning for them to repent and return to Him, but He is willing to get their attention with calamity, as well. In fact, so many warnings have already been spoken, that the next “warning” will be action. Perhaps this action of calamity will bring the people back to God, thus preventing more calamity. Today’s passage begins with Jeremiah complaining to God about a different message other “prophets” are telling the people. And the basic message of those so-called prophets was peace and prosperity. They were saying only what the people wanted to hear and not only was it not helpful to the people, it was false. These false messages were going to make the calamity to come even worse.
Next, we see Jeremiah bemoaning his lot. He cries out to God and God assures him that he will indeed have a covering. However, being covered from a storm does not mean that we don’t have to endure the discomfort and destruction around us. Even so, in the midst of it all we can truly say: It is well with my soul. It may not be well with my body, with my heart, with my emotions, but it can always be well with my soul.
I had this experience this week: I clicked on a news report from a respected news outlet. And oh, how I wish I had not read it. It stayed with me for days, and even now I wish I didn’t have that in my head. I was sick with the deeds of one human to another. I was shocked that such abuse could take place. I found myself thinking, “At least I am shocked. At least I am horrified. At least this has not become so common place that I am no longer affected.” So, even though this did not have anything to do with me, I still had to struggle with the effects of it, because of the world we live in. I still experienced the grief of it; and it made me want to run and hide my family from the world. Yet, even as I thought that, I immediately realized that this is not an option. We can’t hide away from the dark world, lest it become darker and darker. We must let our light shine.
And then, we come to the verses that stopped me in my tracks today.
19 Therefore this is what the Lord says:
“If you repent, I will restore you
that you may serve me;
if you utter worthy, not worthless, words,
you will be my spokesman.
This was spoken to Jeremiah, the godly prophet in the midst of the darkness. The one trying to do the right thing, listen to God, speak the words of God—he, too, had to repent. Just because his sin did not have the earthly degree of severity, did not mean it did not have to be attended to. For truthfully, all sin puts a separation between us and God. The degree levels are only discernable here on earth.
And then these words: if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman.
Those words got me on my knees. I cried out to the Lord, saying, “Oh, Lord, forgive me for the worthless words I speak every day. And please, Lord, put only worthy words on my tongue.”
Worthy words. How much encouragement and truth we could bestow to others with worthy words. How much less arguing and bickering would take place if we committed to saying only worthy words. How many reputations would be intact if we did not attack with gossip, slander, or even truthful words that are still not worthy for us to say about someone to another. Wouldn’t we be better off to just take those things to the Father, rather than the phone?
I am speaking to myself. But maybe, just maybe, someone else needed to be reminded of this, too? Please, friends, let’s together commit to speaking only worthy words that we may each be a spokesman for the Lord.