February 12, 2012
Carefulness in Speaking of God
“And so it was, after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has’” (Job 42:7).
Job’s friends, who had presumed to speak on God’s behalf, found themselves the object of God’s wrath because, as God said, “You have not spoken of Me what is right.” Speech is among the highest of our gifts as God’s creatures, and it is a most serious thing to employ this gift in speaking about the Creator Himself. The gravity of saying anything untrue about God is such that it would be far better to remain silent than to speak in error. And yet, we often speak with shocking carelessness about God, casually tossing around opinions about God as if it were no more than a game. We speak of our Creator offhandedly.
I write my messages with an almost paralyzing sense of responsibility, a fear of misleading any reader. Solomon’s reminder is never very far away from my consciousness: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). And then there is James’s admonition: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak . . .” (James 1:19). The subject of God, of all the subjects in the world, is the one that deserves the greatest care and the greatest reverence from one who speaks or writes.
Computer programmers talk about “validating the input.” Since the quality of a program’s output depends on the accuracy of the input (garbage in, garbage out), it’s always wise to validate the input, checking to make sure the information is as accurate as it was first thought to be. When the computer is our brain and the subject is God, can we not see how crucial it is to make sure our concepts are correct before we “output” them to others?
Just as it is possible for us to understand truth about God, it is possible for us to speak truth about Him. But we must be careful. Words about God have the power to uplift and to strengthen. But those words must be “acceptable words . . . words of truth” (Ecclesiastes 12:10). Words of truth. Nothing less must be our goal.
“Forge thy tongue on an anvil of truth, and what flies up, though it be but a spark, Shall have weight” (Pindar).