Speaking of Blessing
Purified and cleansed from their foreign gods, Jacob’s family journeyed on to Luz. They were safe, being protected by a terror from God that had fallen upon the surrounding cities. The consecrated people of God were protected from harm by God himself.
This story in Genesis reminded me of Moses. Just after the people of Israel had carved a golden calf to worship, the Lord told Moses to depart and to enter the Promised Land. Surprisingly, the Lord said that he would not go with them because there were a stiff-necked people. If he was to go with them, he would consume them. Instead of being a stiff-necked people, they were to take off their ornaments so that he would know what to do with them. In this story we again see the importance of God’s presence with his people. It was his presence that made them different from the nations and which was withdrawn because of their sin and rebellion.
God’s Presence for New Testament Believers
As believers, we have God’s presence since his Spirit lives in us (1 Corinthians 12:13). Unlike believers in the Old Testament, his presence will not leave us. Yet at the same time, we are called to be continuously filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and are commanded not to grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). There is in some sense an experiential aspect to the Spirit’s work in our lives, even though he lives in all of us. This is connected to our being continually filled with him and not grieving him.
God’s Presence and Our Speech
When I read these verses in Ephesians, I was surprised to discover that both are in the context of our speech. In Ephesians 4, no corrupting talk is to come out of our mouths, rather what is edifying for the other so that those who hear it are given grace. In Ephesians 5, when we are continuously being filled with the Spirit, we are to address one another with psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord, and giving thanks.
As New Testament believers, an important aspect of the work of the Spirit in our lives is in how we talk. We are to be speaking words that are a blessing to others, edifying and grace-giving. We are to speak in ways that correspond with the truths of Scripture.
Lord of my Speech
As I write this, I am convicted about the numerous times this is not true in my life. The way we speak shows the practical reality of the Lordship of Christ over our hearts. Who is Lord of my speech? Is it myself? Is my speech an expression of my wants, desires, frustrations, and opinions or does it honor Christ and lovingly bless others? Who reigns, filters, and rules over the words of my mouth?