When I was in Bible college one of my fellow students was passionately pursuing the Lord and working to become a missionary in Brazil. He was using his years in college to raise funds so that by the time of graduation, he could hit the launchpad and go. He loved the Lord, was consistent in his mission and had a very clear path.
And then one day someone told him that he needed to stay in the US for awhile as he needed to work on his social skills. Yes, he was mildly awkward but not bad. The advice must of touched a sensitivity in his spirit because he listened. He didn’t go. And last I heard he was working in a factory.
Words are dangerous. In fact, they are more dangerous than any weapon. A war always begins in words first. It’s later that weapons of this world are used. As the move Arrival so aptly puts:
“Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict.”
Behind the words is a goal, a motivation and a spirit. Words reflect what we think as well as our maturity. We come to know people by the integrity of their words.
There were difficult words spoken when the spies went into the promised land. They had been complaining all this time, “Where is the land flowing with milk and honey you promised?” And now they came back and said, ‘It’s all there and more, but it’s protected by giants in the land.’
The words of the ten swayed the masses more than the words of the two–Caleb and Joshua, whose words swayed none. And the people of Israel trembled in fear rather than faith. God wanted to give them all that he promised but now in their fear they accused him once again of trying to lead them to their death. The Lord brought discipline and none of that generation entered the Promised Land.
And now it seemed to be happening again. The Reubenites and Gadites and half tribe of Manasseh asked to stay on the east side of the Jordan as the land was fertile. Moses balked.
“Why are you discouraging the Israelites from crossing into the land the LORD has given them?…The LORD’s anger burned against Israel and He made them wander in the wilderness 40 years until the whole generation that had done what was evil the LORD’s sight was gone” (Num 32:13).
But this time the spirit was different. The Rebeunites, Gadites and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh made it expressly known that they would fully obey the Lord and help settle all the other Israelites before themselves. They made an oath and they kept good on their word.
It’s disturbing to think that with simple words we can turn people away from the Lord’s purposes by discouraging them from doing what the Lord has called them to do. Maybe what they sensed from the Lord was too outlandish. Impractical. Unreasonable. Yet, some things may be of the Lord.
So yes, we must walk in wisdom and understanding. There’s a time to speak and a time not to. But faith and obedience must be the desire of our hearts. It is the spirit of the Gadies, Reubenites and 1/2 tribe of Manasseh and not the ten spies with the word of discouragement.
It’s true that sometimes the Lord calls us or others to do things that may seem rather impossible and scary. Yes, we must walk in godly community as that is our safeguard. But be careful of discouraging people away from what may potentially be the Lord leading someone in a new direction.
I still think about that boy who had such strong desire to go to Brazil. What would have happened if that person had never spoken and he had fulfilled the dream the Lord put on his heart?