This weekend was a good one. I spent it in Guelph, Ontario, teaching at Write! Canada. I so enjoyed meeting others who share my desire to communicate life-changing words through writing and speaking. I trust that my classes and keynote presentation will equip and encourage them to pursue their dreams with passion and excellence.
The theme for the conference was “Changing the World with Words.” One of the things I mentioned in my keynote was that Jesus, our role model, spoke only the words that the Father gave Him. Unfortunately, those words sometimes made Him unpopular with the crowd. The same thing happened with an Old Testament prophet, Micaiah, who was forced to stand alone.
Let’s backtrack for a moment. The king of Israel had asked his 400 prophets for guidance re: whether or not he should go to war against Ramoth-gilead. He received a unanimous, ‘Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory” (1 Kings 22:6). But then Jehoshaphat said, “Ah…wait a minute. Let’s ask a prophet of the LORD the same question and see what he says.” And so a messenger summoned the prophet Micaiah.
Get a load of this. The messenger said to Micaiah, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success” (v.13). Those words forced Micaiah to make a choice: he’d either follow the messenger’s advice and take the easy route, or he’d stand up for truth and risk the consequences.
Micaiah chose to stand up for the truth. “As surely as the LORD lives, I will say only what the LORD tells me to say.” And that’s what he did. He warned the king that going to battle would result in his death, and he ended up being slapped across the face, literally (v. 24).
This theme of saying only what God tells us to say keeps returning to me as a writer and speaker. It forces me to examine my message and my motive behind it. Am I writing or speaking words to please the crowd? To tickle their ears? To give them what they want to hear? Or am I pressing in to know God better, to understand His heart for individuals and for the world at large, and then delivering His message and words of truth even though they might make me unpopular and force me to take a lonely position at times?
The same question applies to all believers, no matter their walk in life. Do we speak words of truth when we see our friends making lousy choices? When we see Christian couples split up due to irreconcilable differences? When we see others bury themselves in anger and unforgiveness? Or do we speak up and (lovingly) challenge them with the truth of God’s word even though doing so might strike us from their “Most Popular” friends list?
I hope we’re faithful to do the latter for others. And I hope others will do the same for me if they see me heading down the wrong path.
Here’s a question to ponder: How does fear play into our natural bent towards desiring popularity?
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