Watch your mouth
Today’s scripture is all about the power of words.
The disciples are amazed when Jesus curses the fig tree, and it withers before their eyes.
“And Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.'” (v21-22)
What an amazing statement! That if we have faith, we can tell a mountain to move – and that whatever we ask for, we will receive. Notice that there is a distinction made between speaking to obstacles, things that need to be removed from our lives – “say to this mountain” – and asking for things that we would like to be added – “ask in prayer, you will receive”.
There is a caution in here too that I think we miss a lot. “If you have faith” – we tend to read this and think about having faith to move the mountain – but what about the poor old fig tree? It wasn’t its fault it didn’t have any fruit yet. As Christians, Jesus – by His Holy Spirit – lives in us. This is how we can do the things He did when He walked the earth – heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons (Matt 10:7-8). With great power though, comes great responsibility. If we have faith, we can speak life – and death – over things, situations and people’s lives. Including our own.
There are varying views on Jesus and the fig tree. Was he annoyed with the tree? Did He do it to make a point? I believe He used this moment as a teaching moment for the disciples. Yes, you can move mountains – you can also kill things with your words. You might not be intending to do that, but because you have faith, and you operate in the anointing of God – you can do it without realising.
There are many scriptures that speak to us about being careful with our speech.
- Proverbs 13:3 says “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
- The book of James includes a whole chapter (ch.3) filled with warnings about controlling our tongues!
In the second half of our reading, the Pharisees are once again trying to corner Jesus – this time with a question about His authority. Jesus side-steps them neatly with a parable.
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'”
‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.
The first son in our tale says “no” to his father – then changes his mind. The second son says “yes” – with no intention of following through. His “yes” becomes no – outward lip service followed by disobedience. Jesus says that the tax collectors and prostitutes – who heard the word through John the Baptist and believed – are entering the kingdom ahead of the Pharisees – who are still holding out and refusing to believe that Jesus is God. The Pharisees looked good on the outside – they gave their outward “yes” to Him – but then refused to believe when Jesus was standing right in front of them.
God wants your heart. God wants your honest “yes” – even if it starts out as a “no”. You can decide today to give your “yes” to Jesus.
Lord help us to remember that our words have power. Help us to use them wisely, and to give our honest “yes” to you,