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No empty words

"For it is not a useless Word for you, for it is your life,
and by this Word you shall prolong your days ..."
(Deuteronomy 32:47 - Young's Literal Translation)

It was no political talk Mose gave in front of the people, nor was it like some election promise which you can never be sure of whether it will be kept. These words could be trusted. Nowadays some politicians stand in front of cameras but at the end of their speech you don't know more than before. We often use careless words as well. Many words, in speech and in writing, have become an like an empty shell. This also affects our understanding of God's word and our relationships with people.

For Jews who speak Hebrew, a word is something concrete, like an event. What is being said, needs also to happen. A word creates facts, it cannot just be taken back. From this perspective you will tend to think about what you are going to say. In Psalm 141 it literally says: "O Lord, keep a watch over my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Keep my heart from desiring any evil thing, or from taking part in the sins of the evil-doers with men who do wrong: and let me have no part in their good things." By the way, Biblical Hebrew is built from far less root words than ancient Greek, the language of the philosophers. It doesn't take many words in order to please God. On the contrary, because "Where there is much talk there will be no end to sin" (Proverbs 10:19).

With this in the back of our heads, let us read some well-known Bible passages which will become new and meaningful to us. Think about it: God spoke just a few creative words and this huge universe came into existence. Mose admonished Israel with words, followed by blessing and curse. Finally God proved to us through Jesus, that His word is not empty:

"... the Word became flesh and took a place among us for a time;
and we saw his glory--such glory as is given to an only son by his father --
saw it to be true and full of grace."
(John 1:14)

The Son was not a mere theoretical teacher. Luke wrote in his first report " ... of all the things which Jesus did, and of his teaching from the first" (Acts 1:1)

This explains why Jesus always emphasized the connection between talking and doing, between words and deeds. His story about building a house on the rock was an illustration to the question: "Why do you say to me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Lukas 6.46) A confession to Jesus without the obedience of the faith is like a house lacking a firm foundation. In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul presupposed his readers would know about that connection. The apostle writes about confession in chapter 10, verse 8, quoting in part from an Old Testament passage: " ... The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ..." and his readers knew how the text continued: " ... so that you may do it" (Deuteronomy 30:14) This is the very context in which the following well-known words need to be understood:

"...  that is, the word of faith of which we are the preachers:
Because, if you say with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and have faith in your heart
that God has made him come back from the dead, you will have salvation:
For with the heart man has faith to get righteousness,
and with the mouth he says that Jesus is Lord to get salvation."
(Romans 10:8-10)

We, today's readers, must not come to the hasty conclusion that a simple verbal confession to Jesus from our lips is enough for salvation. This is not about a one-time act at all - the whole Christian life is a continued confession of the risen son of God. Here, Paul does not mention repentance, baptism nor sanctification either, but we find those conditions of salvation mentioned elsewhere and must not ignore them. Otherwise our Yes to God will be empty, it will lack substance, it won't contain life.

Relationships in between people are likewise dependent on how words are used. Just as God's own word is effective (Hebrews 4:12), our words has a certain potential for good yet also for the bad: "There are some whose uncontrolled talk is like the wounds of a sword, but the tongue of the wise makes one well again." (Proverbs 12:18). Are we aware that our words don't just bounce back from the other person? In fact, they may leave scars for a long time or even for eternity. When suffering Job needed consolation and encouragement, his friends bombarded him with their teachings. They did not understand why their efforts were to no avail. In turn, the suffering man replied: "Will a man take food which has no taste without salt? or is there any taste in the soft substance of purslain??" (Job 6:6) Those words were simply inedible. They were not, as Paul puts it, "with grace, mixed with salt" (Colossians 4:6) Right seasoning needs flair. It helps when one tries to really listen first and to understand the situation of the other person, trying to imagine what it must be like and then to answer.

Life depends on the right words. Mose knew it already. At first this refers to God's inspired words which are not empty but effective. Let us consider that our own words may likewise resound throughout eternity. One day we will have to give an account for them. Jesus said: " ... For by your words will your righteousness be seen, and by your words you will be judged." (Matthew 12:37)