In the name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
“What do I say?” We often feel tongue tied when confronted by difficult emotional or moral situations. Especially as nice polite Canadians. We don’t know what to say. We’re not bold, crass Americans. We’re no President Trump tweeting every stray thought we have. No, we don’t want to make any waves. We want “peace, order, and good government.” Those words from our constitution (section 91 of the British North America Act) are a far cry from “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Which is probably why we Canadians are so much less in your face than our neighbours to the south. To be sure, not all of you are afflicted with this sort of Canadian shyness. And some of us are gifted with a generous dose of “foot in mouth” disease. But in general we don’t know what to say. And so we feel at odds in our culture. Tongue tied. Increasingly at odds with a culture that has departed from a Biblical foundation.
Kind of like the deaf mute whom our Lord healed. His tongue was tied. (Mark 7:35) Bound by deafness. So that in order to break that bondage the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-3, 14) had to be thrust in His ears. (Mark 7:33) That captive tongue had to be brought into captivity to Him (Mark 7:33; 2 Cor. 10:5) who rescues us from the domain of the darkness. (Col. 1:13) For Jesus, the great doctor of our souls (Luke 5:31-32), had to intercede with groanings too deep for words (Rom. 8:26; Mark 7:34). So that by His interceding for this man He took the effects of our fallen world, that had caused this man’s body to not work as designed, into His own flesh (1 Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:4) giving that man the tongue of Christ which opened and spoke rightly. (Mark 7:35 Greek; Ps. 51:15) That means not only did he not have a lisp; not only did he talk in full sentences without any speech impediment or speech therapy, but he spoke rightly by praising the Lord who had done all things well. (Mark 7:35, 37)
And then our Lord—who was in midst of Gentile territory on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, having come down fromTyre through region of Sidon to the totally Gentile side of Sea of Galilee (Mark 7:31), what we’d call the borders of modern day Syria and Jordan—did a funny thing. He ordered the crowds of Gentile unbelievers not to speak of it. (Mark 7:36)
But in amazement the more He said, “Don’t talk,” the more they talked giving praise to God saying, “He has done all things well.” (Mark 7:36-37) He has caused the ears of the deaf to be opened. The tongue of the mute to be loosed. (Isaiah 29:18-19) They proclaimed the words of the prophet, that Lebanon—i.e., those mountains of Tyre and Sidon, those Gentile regions—would be refreshed. (Isa. 29:19) That the mouths of the mute would open and rejoice exceedingly in the Holy One of Israel who does all things well. (Isa. 29:19; Mark 7:37) That ones who are deaf in unbelief would hear the words of THE book (Isa. 29:18)—the words of the Word of God made flesh. (John 1:1-3, 14)
You see, unbelievers must be silent before the Lord. They can not speak the speech of faith. They can not confess that Jesus Christ is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:3) Which means, that the Word of God—by which the Holy Spirit comes to anyone (Eph. 6:17)—must grab hold of your tongue (Mark 7:33 Greek) in order for it to speak in faith. Your ears must be opened by the words of His book. (Isa. 29:18) For faith comes by hearing, hearing about Christ. (Rom. 10:17) You’ve got to have a preacher sent by God to you for you to come to faith. (Rom. 10:14-15) In fact, any of us who have saving faith in Jesus have multiple preachers—mothers, fathers, pastors, spouses, friends, many, many people who have encouraged and proclaimed that Jesus has done all things well to you! That He has taken your sin to the cross. Put it away from you as far as the east is from the west. (Ps. 103:12) Making a new you. (Ps. 51:10-13; Ezek. 36:26) A you who can speak. For this word grips you in faith (Mark 7:33 Greek) long before your mouth opens to speak. (Ps. 51:15)
After all, as King David said after he repented of adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise!” (Ps. 51:15)
You see, we think we have to say the right words. We have to get it all just so. The right doctrine. The right phrases. Be smart enough. On your game in order to even bother opening your mouth. So that you psych yourself out, and close your mouth in fear. But you don’t have to say the right words. You just have to pray that the Lord would open your lips so that His praises would be sung. (Ps. 51:15) You don’t worry about pointing out the sins and short comings of your kids or friends, or family. Just pray Lord open your lips. That He gives you boldness and courage to be His person (Eph. 6:19), His witness, who sings His praise.
And repent. For what is your tongue gripped by? By fear? I know mine has been far too often. Especially as a nice, inoffensive Canadian. As someone who personally loves peace, order, and good government in my family, in my relationships, I’d rather not say something than disturb the peace. But guess what. When I avoid saying what needs to be said, my heart melts inwardly. I swallow the voice God gave me. The voice of healing. The voice of truth which He has given you for others. The voice which might save another soul. For faith comes by hearing, hearing about Jesus. (Rom. 10:17) God has given me a voice. A voice not only to preach to you as your pastor, but also to speak to those God puts in my life as friends, as family, especially for those friends and family who don’t know Him. Who are held captive in Satan’s bonds.
My tongue is often bound by fear. So if you’re like me, repent with me. Admit you’ve been afraid. Turn from that to the Lord. And in faith pray with David and all the Church in heaven and on earth, “Oh Lord, open my lips that my mouth might declare you praise.”
To the glory of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit, and to the salvation of many.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.