Simply put, words matter. Our words can be vessels of encouragement. They can express love to the people that matter most in our lives. Our words can inflict pain on those we hurl insults at. As James 2 says, the tongue is a tiny part of the body that carries a weighty impact. That impact stretches far beyond the moment that words are uttered, and affect others far deeper than the eyes can see. Words are a powerful tool that must be crafted and wielded carefully.
Within the Christian context, our words are a valuable commodity. They can exalt the greatness of God and they can just as easily tear another believer down. Those who have submitted their lives to Christ have a beautiful message to tell. It is a tale of sin, grace and the salvation that God has given us. The hope of the gospel and the truth of God’s Word are remarkable messages that should always trail off our lips. Sharing the gospel matters. Just as equally, sharing that gospel with words that show the majesty and glory of God is something we need to pursue.
This is exactly what John Piper expresses in his new book, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully. Now before you check out when you assume this is a book for pastors only, I want you to think this through with me. Those of us in Christ are all people who carry about the death of Christ that we may reveal the life of Christ in how we live. To walk in that sort of grace comes with a call to tell of all that God has taught us so that we may make disciples. From the pulpit to the pew to the park bench, the Christian is charged to tell of the wonder and glory of God.
By using the lives of three men – George Herbert, George Whitfield and CS Lewis – Piper communicates the value of knowing the riches that we have in Christ while being able to express the beauty of that grace. These three men had three very different callings: a poet, a preacher and a professor. Herbert, a poet, was a man who had a gift for crafting beautiful words and phrases, but he was diligent to be certain of the Scriptural truth he wrote. Whitfield and Lewis were both men with a staunchly theological background, but they did not overlook the value in expressing truth beautifully and poetically. Piper says of the three men, “They made poetic effort to see and savor and show the glories of Christ. This effort was the God-dependent intention and exertion to find striking, penetrating, imaginative, and awakening ways of expressing the excellencies they saw.”
This book is a challenge to us all to wrestle with our own faith that we may know the truth, share the truth and express the truth in a way that is worthy of the glorious God we trust in. The Christian has a great treasure in the hope of the gospel and that is a treasure that is meant to be shared with the world. Our words should never point back to ourselves and our intellect, but they should be words that are fitly spoken, pointing to the riches of the Father. Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully is a challenge for all of us, from pastor to public servant, to grasp the beauty of Christ and to express how glorious He truly is. Our words matter and it is time we started to talk like it.