The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a disciple so that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. (Is. 50:4)
How man times have I heard, have I given, have you given advice that is “one size fits all”?
When I went through leukemia, the word God gave to me was, “It’s all good.” A 6-year-old girl sent that message to me on a T-shirt.
The whole word of God for me was “All things work together for good for those that love God and who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
During leukemia, I really got to know that verse. I loved it, and it kept my attitude not only positive, but joyful. I have nothing but fond memories of chemotherapy, radiation, hemorrhoids that made me sweat and shiver in pain, spinal taps that frightened me, and literal “taps” by the needle on my spinal nerves that jerked my legs and sent bizarre sensations firing down my legs.
All of that was fueled by the fact that I knew “it’s all good.”
Nonetheless, one day someone asked me how things were going, and I was explaining my “adventures.” As I did so, a brother jumped in to say, “Well, all things work together for good.'”
The table went quiet. I love that verse. It was my theme verse. But the brother did not say, “All things work together for good,” even though that is what he said. What I and everyone else present heard was, “Quit your griping, and get your attitude right. I really don’t want to hear all this. I have other things to do besides empathize with your plight.”
Before you judge him, ask yourself if you do that.
There is always a “one size fits all” answer. How quick we are to throw out a Scripture that is a “solution” to the “problem.”
Try that on your wife. If you think that’s a good idea, I’ll show you a marriage with real problems.
Jesus could have picked anyone or said anything the day that Zaccheus climbed into a tree to get a glimpse from him. He could have talked to him about money and the love of money. He certainly did that on other occasions. He could have told a story about tax collectors vs. Pharisees. He certainly had several of those at hand.
No, Jesus had the tongue of one taught by God. He told Zaccheus to hurry out of the tree so he could serve lunch to Jesus and his disciples.
It saved Zaccheus on the spot.
The Scriptures are profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and instruction. However, a depressed, frightened saint who wishes he/she could live up to the standards of the King does not need a lecture or fear. That person needs a hug. We are told to “comfort the fainthearted.” It’s the unruly we warn. (1 Thess. 5:14)
There is a big difference between the tongue of a disciple that dispenses “a word in season” and a one-size-fits-all Scripture quote.
Sometimes what a person needs a healthy dose of straightforward truth, no matter how much it hurts their feelings. Other times, the same truth is not healthy, but potentiall fatal.
We are dispensers of love who comfort the fainthearted, help the weak, and warn the unruly. We love enough to learn like a disciple (1sa. 50:4 again) and differentiate between these three types of situations. We learn when to instruct, when to reprove, when to console.
The next time you know just the Scripture for a person’s situation, make sure that when you quote it, you are quoting it and not saying, “Stop talking. I’m not interested anymore. Here’s the solution to your problem.”
Individuals are individuals, and God’s word to them is God’s word to them. That is why God wakens you morning to morning to learn like a disciple, so that you will know to speak a word in season and a not a one-size-fits-all Scripture you learned in a Sunday school class or a pastor’s sermon. God’s not impressed with your intellect but with your love.