Jeremiah 7:8 “But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.”
It’s hard to get a very encouraging Word out of the first half of the book of Jeremiah! He was the very opposite of politically correct, calling spades spades and exposing the moral corruption that surrounded him. When the Lord called and commissioned him He was sure to tell him, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jeremiah 1:8) Jeremiah got into a lot of hot water for his faithfulness to speak what the Lord told him, and tradition indicates he was eventually stoned to death in Egypt by the very people he was trying to draw back to God. That might not seem like he was “rescued,” as God had promised him, but his reward in heaven was surely magnificent. He was faithful to speak true words, whether they were well received or not, the very opposite of the words he was warning people about in this verse. Recently many people have been claiming a “right” not to be offended, when such an attitude would limit them to the worthless words Jeremiah is talking about here. We aren’t to offend needlessly, but we aren’t to draw back from speaking the truth in love out of a fear of giving offense. In his general instructions for how to live as a believer, Paul says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) To admonish is to speak a word of correction or warning. That’s exactly what Jeremiah did, and we need to do so as well.
I am really preaching to myself here! I tend to avoid confrontation as much as possible, and that trait has gotten me into a lot of unnecessary trouble in the past. I am not to value “interpersonal harmony,” as I see it, over faithfulness to God. Perhaps in that way I am being very Japanese, because they value social harmony very highly. In the process they tend to quash individuality, so I need to remember all the problems that produces. I am to seek my acceptance and security in God alone, not rejecting people but not fearing them or their opinions either. That’s much easier to say than to do! However, I must remember one of Jesus’ sterner warnings; “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:36-37) I must be careful not to speak worthless words, but rather the truth of God in love.
Father, You have allowed me to speak Your Word a great deal, and I am deeply grateful. Help me speak only what You would have me say, and everything You would have me say, not only in the pulpit but all the time. May Your words through me accomplish everything for which You send them indeed, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. (Isaiah 55:10-11) Thank You. Praise God!