“Make your words sweet. After all, you may have to eat them!” Great advice, and perfect for one who is embarking on a spiritual journey of disciplined and purposeful faith.
You see, our words are icons of our hearts. That’s why paying attention to our words is part of any spiritual discipline to become the master of your passions rather than the slave of your emotions, your fears, and your desires. Watch how you speak for a day, and you will learn a great deal about yourself.
Look at our Lesson today in Genesis 1:1-13:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. And God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
All of us know this passage well. It’s the beginning. But notice what St. Moses emphasizes as he tells us the story of God creating the world. God uses His Voice, His Word! (hint, hint!)
God’s Word is there with Him at Creation “out of nothing” (ex nihilo) and His Word brings creation into being. God’s Word shares “existence” with the creation as God, “SAYS” “Let there be…” And His creation is GOOD because creation receives its existence from the Good God. His Word brings existence into existence because His Word is equal to Him and shares His eternality and His divinity. Have you figured out that I’m talking about Jesus here? Good. I was hoping to be obvious.
So, words matter because God begins His love story with His creation with His Word. His Word extends God’s goodness and shares God’s goodness with the creation God brings into existence. In just a bit, God will look at the humanity He creates from His creation and will say that humanity is “Very Good.” And God has never changed His Mind about that still!
It is significant that the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew scriptures uses the word “logos.” St. Moses starts his creation story with God speaking the universe into existence. God uses His “logos” to create everything. Then St. John begins his gospel of John in the same manner, using the word “logos” to tell us that Jesus is God’s Word. This significant revelation is given to us on the threshold of Great Lent precisely to teach us to pay attention to God’s Word and allow His Word to continually recreate us in His likeness.
Today, do your words share goodness with creation? Are your words icons of God’s Word for your world? If we are ever going to travel this journey to the fullness of our purpose and our destiny as creatures meant to be God’s eternal companions, we are going to have to begin with disciplined words. As King Solomon says in Proverbs “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) The Church gives us the practical spiritual disciplines that begin with the practice of silence and then moves us to learn to shape our words in prayer and worship. Having our words seasoned with timeless wisdom sets us free to use our words to create and not destroy. We become Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, thank You for Your Word, our Lord Jesus. Thank You that You are not a silent God, nor a God Who withholds Himself from us. You share Yourself with Your creation by gifting us with existence all for our benefit. You love me enough to bring me into existence so that I can enjoy You forever. But the work I need to embrace during the season of Great Lent is letting go of my own foolish and “too small” notions of what I’m to be. As I practice, as best I can, the disciplines of the Great Fast, O Lord, grant me the insight into my own sins and help me to not notice the sins of others. Give me Your Word living inside me so that I will become like You. Amen.