Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Humility, Truth, and the Power of Our Words

“And don’t say anything you don’t mean... In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no’.” ~Matthew 5:33, 37 (Msg).

There are many biblical nuances to the truth that our words, and the actions connected with them, have great power—both negative and positive. James chapter 3, particularly, hones in on the impossibilities of taming the tongue.

If we were to run a humility gauge over the whole Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) we would find Jesus repeating, continually, the importance of such relationally-related truth. Our humility is tested most in the realm of our relationships. The words we use, and the way we say them, reveal our deeper character.

The Humble Beauty of a Plain ‘Yes’ and ‘No’

Humility and truth are concepts married in Jesus’ message in this passage on oaths and empty promises. Humility perhaps characterises the heart of the person who is wedded to the truth, in spite of the temptations to the contrary. Extending this theory, it is humility that underpins the process of truthful communication—which is the output.

If we are not truthful we cannot be shown as humble.

Situations where we are tempted to embellish our responses beyond a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are commonplace. It’s a humble heart, however, that abides to the truth. Humility is hence situational.

Words that are unadorned of the frills of fallacy, flattery, and fanfare carry about them a humble beauty, and much inexplicable power. The truth carries them with weight and reputations are fortified never more firmly.

The Business of Blessing

Exceeding people’s expectations is the business of blessing; we can only do this if we don’t pre-inflate vision of the outcome.

This is a difficult balance to achieve because sometimes our imaginations get the better of us and we hope to bless people before we can actually deliver. Therefore, we’re tempted to people-please. We try too hard at times, by taking an advance on the blessings we can procure, and then when we don’t deliver to the level anticipated we disappoint.

So, this business of blessing—so far as our words leading to actions are concerned—is centred in having the restraint of patience not to elevate expectations prematurely.

This restraint obeys the principle promoting the reverent positive power. It cooperates with time and, added with the previously mentioned humility and truth, produces actions perfectly in line with expectation, or better.


Our actions ought to correspond with our words and vice versa. This can only happen, with consistency, if we value truth and honour the personal development of humility.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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