This week’s readings center around hearing God’s voice and heeding the call to faithfulness. Each scripture bears witness to the power of God’s presence in the words and an invitation to respond.
Words can both harm and heal. They can usher peace and new life into a soul, or they can strip a soul of hope and freedom. Even the right words offered at the wrong time can have dire consequences. In Mark 8, Peter recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. However, Jesus quickly tells Peter to keep his knowledge to himself. He doesn’t just tell, he warns the disciples not to share what they know. Indeed, if Peter had proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah prematurely, he would have cut Jesus’ earthly ministry short and hastened his death.
Sometimes God calls us to be silent. When we see persons struggling because of poor choices or when we watch them repeat harmful patterns of behavior, we may be tempted to highlight exactly why they are in their current predicament. Our motives are good. We all want the people we love to experience a joyful life, free of suffering. Yet sharing even a truthful message at the wrong moment can further harm the people we most want to help.
Sometimes kind silence or a word of encouragement is much more beneficial than sharing facts. God’s calling to speak will always be led by grace, gentleness, patience, and—above all else—love. If we speak outside of such motivations, we may speak the truth, but we do so outside of God’s calling.
As we approach our communities with our own confessions of Christ, may we recognize who Jesus is and when to share our message of hope.
Jesus, give us the wisdom to recognize when you call us to speak the truth and when we should refrain. Amen.
Through the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, God shows the paths of righteousness and warns against the ways of destruction. The writer of Proverbs describes this as the voice of Wisdom crying out, yet some refuse to listen—to their peril. The psalmist rejoices in the law of the Lord, for God’s decrees teach us how to live well. Living a godly life includes paying attention to our speech. How can we, James asks, praise God with our lips and then curse others with those same lips? Peter is tripped up by his words in Mark. He declares Jesus to be the Messiah, yet in the next scene he recklessly rebukes Jesus for speaking of his death. Our words matter, and God desires purity and consistency.
• Read Proverbs 1:20-33. How clearly can you hear Wisdom’s call? What keeps you from answering?
• Read Psalm 19. How do your words and your heart’s meditations reflect your faith? Do you think God finds them acceptable?
• Read James 3:1-12. Consider your words. Do they honor the image of God in those to whom you speak?
• Read Mark 8:27-38. When has God called you to be silent? Were you better able to hear an unexpected call from God?
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