MAKING WORDS COUNT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
“I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” I Corinthians 2:2
A bad eloquence has entered the church and characterized the pulpit. My husband and I, early in our marriage, sat under the teaching of someone who made it his aim to be clever with biblical concepts. He wanted to be memorable. He thrived on others feedback that praised his unique twists and turns with scripture. His sermons became all about him having an audience, not about being a mouthpiece for God’s glory. Not surprisingly, there seemed to be little growth under his influence.
The poet, James Denney, said, “No man can give the impression that he himself is clever and that Christ is mighty to save.”
God-glorifying eloquence is not about putting words together to enjoy others praise. To be eloquent doesn’t require a masters or doctor of divinity degree. In Acts 4, Peter had given his defense at the Sanhedrin’s counsel. They saw the courage of the two men and realized that they were unschooled ordinary men who had been with Jesus. Their manner of speaking, coupled with the obvious spiritual power at work inside of them, made a profound impact.
King David was schooled to be a king on a hillside as a shepherd. Later in life, while praising God for being the One to equip him to rule, he proclaimed, “You, O Lord, have made me wiser than all my instructors.” Princes, kings, and paupers have been inspired to praise God and learn how to lament with well-ordered grief through the eloquent writings of this shepherd king, counseled and instructed by the Spirit of God.
Eloquence can be ours for the sake of God’s glory. We can share the scriptures with awe and humility, telling the story of our own need and God’s grace to save, and as we do, we give all glory to God for transforming the places where the locusts have eaten. The story comes tumbling out of our mouths with passion and tears. It leaves many stunned, wondering whether to cry with us, rejoice with us, or just sit in their seats in absolute silence. Their view of God just grew from an anemic deity to a mighty Savior.
John Piper, who has shaped my spiritual journey as much as anyone in the past decade, says…. “Let us not exploit language to exalt ourselves and belittle or ignore the crucified Lord.” Paul said something similar, “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Ministry becomes most powerful, most cutting edge – like the sharpened axe blade, most fruitful, most God-glorifying, most contagious…when our language is birthed out of the healing of our deepest wounds. What was untouchable, unspeakable, becomes the catalyst for spiritual power when God transforms it into glory.
Oh Father, let the Spirit fall today where Your Word is shared. Let the sound of a pin dropping shake the room. By Your Spirit, let the result be a harvest of souls who see the kingdom open up before them. In Jesus’ name, Amen