For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10 – 55:11 ESV)
If by now you haven’t been informed about the benefits of wearing a mask to help curtail the spreading of the coronavirus, then you’re definitely an oddball; in fact, you’re a one-in-a-three hundred million kind of an oddball.
But I’m not going to talk about the virus this time. I know how disappointed you must be, but please allow me to act a little unamerican.
However, I do want to talk about masks. Or perhaps a different way of saying it, I want to talk about keeping things in that shouldn’t be shared, and vice-versa.
In the above passage of scripture, God makes a couple of statements that we must take note of. One, He tells us that the things He speaks or allows to proceed out of His mouth make a notable difference in the world. It should since it was His word that created everything, and set into motion the laws which govern the universe.
The second thing is that He releases His words on purpose. Because His words are so powerful He must be wise as to when to speak and when to not speak.
In other words, and in a way we can surely appreciate and understand, He decides when to be masked or unmasked.
And we should be wise as well.
Scripture teaches us that our words are very powerful. Our words can create life, and they can take life. Solomon wrote, ”death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Jesus said, ”By your words you’ll be justified, and by them you’ll be condemned.” Again He said, ”Out of the abundance of the heart a person speaks.”
Even Pastor James weighed in on the subject of words.
”For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
”So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.” (James 3:2 – 3:12 ESV)
Jesus taught that the heart and mouth are inseparably connected. It’s how God created us. It’s how He is, in that His heart and words are inseparably connected. But even though His heart is perfect (and ours is not), He still chooses what and when to say something. He doesn’t just let everything fly willy-nilly.
Neither should we.
It’s like trying to control the spread of any infectious disease. Certain times a mask should be worn, other times it should be removed.
A thought occurred to me that some people have it all wrong, where their words are concerned. They mask words that could be spreading life but unmask words that are deadly to society. Even Christians have been masking the treasure they have embraced, as in the new life in Jesus, but have joined in political warfare, and the divisive words that do nothing but spread hatred and confusion.
We sometimes mask the wrong message.
Love and life spread just as easily as hate and death and it’s up to you and me to share the message of hope while we can.
With the Lord as our example, let’s be choosy with our words. Let’s use our tongue purposely to help steer others to the One Who is the author of Truth and Justice. And, understanding words are like seeds, let’s think about what kind of garden we’re planning before we remove our mask and let everything fly.
Let’s unmask words of hope and mask words that do nothing but undermine the gospel message.
I realize wearing a mask can be very uncomfortable, but just think of the lives it could save.