August 29, 2011
Woe is You. Woe is Me!
What goes into a man’s mouth does not make him ‘unclean,’ but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him ‘unclean.’…The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’ (Matthew 15:11,18, NIV).
Friend To Friend
All through the Bible we have accounts of God sending men and women out into the world with a message. Whether it is a message of repentance, judgment, deliverance or hope, God made sure the messengers were placed in strategic moments in time to make an impact on those around them. But God doesn’t send the messenger out unprepared. He trains them as only He can do…and it usually has something to do with their words.
Let’s look at two messengers and how God prepared them to impact the world: Isaiah and Jeremiah.
Isaiah was called to prophesy to Jerusalem 740 years before Christ. In the first five chapters, the overriding theme is impending judgment. “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field…Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks…Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit and wickedness as with cart ropes…Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight…Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and champions at mixing drinks…” But then something happens to Isaiah as he sees his own life reflected in God’s magnificent glory.
Isaiah had a vision.
I saw the Lord seated on a throne high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and threshold shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:1-5)
I imagine Isaiah was feeling pretty good about himself, being called by God to prophesy to this irksome people. But just when he got out the sixth woe, God decided to hold up the mirror of His holiness in which Isaiah saw his own sin. And where did the sin manifest itself? His words.
God doesn’t convict us of our sin to condemn us. He reveals our sin to bring us to repentance and change. Just as Isaiah was lamenting his own foul tongue, a seraph (brightly shimmering heavenly beings whose name means’ burning ones’) picked up a live coal with tongs from the altar of atonement and touched it to the prophet’s lips. Just as God sent the Holy Spirit to the believers at Pentecost in the form of flaming tongues, He sent a coal to set Isaiah’s tongue afire with cleansing power. The seraph touched Isaiah’s tongue with the burning coal and then announced that his guilt was taken away.
Now Isaiah was ready to go out into the world and proclaim God’s message to His people and his “woe is me” was transformed into “Here am I send me.”
Isaiah didn’t need to change his eating or drinking habits, he didn’t need to alter his outward appearance, or take extra classes at the local seminary. Isaiah needed to have his words purified and fortified so God could be properly glorified.
If God thought it necessary to deal with Isaiah’s tongue before he embarked on his heavenly assignment then we should not think it would be any different for you and for me. But did you notice it was God who did the cleansing? It takes more than washing our mouths out with soap to be a woman of clean lips. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit and the touch of God. Our part is to cooperate with Him, submit our words to Him, fill our lives with Him, and live our lives through Him.
Now It’s Your Turn
Unlike Isaiah, Jeremiah didn’t begin prophesying until God touched his mouth first. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah was called to be a prophet to the Hebrew nation. However, he was very reluctant to heed the call. “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child,” he argued. But God reprimanded Jeremiah, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child’…Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.”
Then God reached out his hand and touched Jeremiah’s mouth and said, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.” God called this young man to be strong and courageous and assured him that He would be with him wherever he went.
Today, pull out your Bible and read Jeremiah chapter one. Turn the words into a prayer for your own life and pray that God will use your words and your life to make a positive impact for the gospel today.
More From The Girlfriends
The Bible tells us that death and life are in the power of the tongue. If you would like to learn more about how to use your words to speak life into those around you, you’ll want to read The Power of a Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes. And for a more in-depth look at what God’s Word has to say about our words, see The Power of a Woman’s Words Bible Study Guide.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Monday, 29 August 2011.