Isaiah 4-6, Matthew 23

“Here I am… Send me.” Isaiah 6:8

Recently, I’ve been in a season where I’m sensitive to what I refer to as ‘extreme language’… you know what I’m speaking about… those phrases people use to make their point, and then some. The literary equivalent of using a mallet to kill a mosquito! Examples of extreme language include phrases like “You always do that…” or “You never do that…” This issue is more pervasive than you think… listen carefully next time, particularly when two or more people are having a disagreement.

Along the same lines, I’ve noticed phrases like “I know exactly how you feel” or “Everything is going to be okay…”, the common go-to language when attempting to comfort someone going through a difficult time. While I understand the intent to comfort, the reality is no two people have the same experience when dealing with a difficult situation. In my opinion, it would be more compassionate to offer “I can only imagine how this difficulty is making you feel.” Being careful what we offer to others is the impetus to this reflection on Isaiah 6… wisdom has us carefully responding to others so we speak what we mean and not just to speak.

To understand the significance of using the right words at the right time, it would be beneficial to see that it wasn’t only Isaiah’s response, “Here I am”, that is noteworthy in terms of speaking what is meant. The Old Testament has numerous examples of those addressed by God, from Abraham in Genesis 22:1 to Jacob in Genesis 31:11 to Moses in Exodus 3:4 to Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:4. The phraseology “Here I am” is a one of obedience to anyone who calls, when the one called is ready and willing to be of service, as in Genesis 22:7. In contemporary language, these three words can be interpreted as “Yes… I am at your disposal”. We hear this very strongly when Mary repeats it in her response to the angel Gabrielle’s announcement foretelling the birth of Jesus… “Here I am, the servant of the Lord… let it be with me according to your word” in Luke 1:38.

Applying this principle of ‘meaning what we say’ to our own spiritual growth, we need to be careful what we speak to God during our time with Him. I believe that if God were to make a list of phrases we casually offer to Him, the one phrase that would likely be at the top of the list would be various forms of “Here I am… Send me!” I say this respectfully, but if we are true to ourselves, it appears that after we’ve come to know God for any length of time, it is likely that we’ve felt pressured (by others or an inner need to feel like a better Christian) to say such words to God while secretly hoping that He won’t send us outside our comfort zone. So, ‘Here I am’ really means “Here I am… but only if…”, a conditional ‘Here I am’…

God asked the prophet Isaiah to take his messages to the Israelite people. Any study of the prophets reveals that their jobs were never easy. In fact, no one is his or her right mind would likely accept the challenges without truly knowing that path was God’s choice. Even then, we’d likely hesitate for fear of the unknown as part of the human experience.

It appears that humans haven’t changed much over the millennia in terms of not really meaning what they say. However, Isaiah’s declaration “Here I am” was indeed that… an unequivocal Yes! He showed that his words held integrity and a commitment to God on a much deeper level than mere lip service to appease others or for recognition. We would do well to study Isaiah’s approach, and those mentioned in the Old Testament, who understood the power behind heartfelt and faith-based words that are spoken and the consequences, good and bad, that will result.

Lord, I want my words to matter… really matter to You… I want my words to speak of the true intent of my heart. Father, I pray for less peripheral and more focus vision on You when it comes to my words of intention in the midst of the negativity that surrounds me that continuously tries to tear me down. Please slow the connection between my mind and my mouth so that the words that You hear glorify You with their trustworthiness and enrich the lives of others with their dedication to Your truth! Amen…

Greg Stefanelli (gstefanelli)

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Isaiah 4-6, Matthew 23

  1. Janet

    Some say it’s only words; but the intent of the heart slips out between the sounds.

  2. Greg

    Thank you, Janet, for your response… I’m interested in hearing more of what you mean… can you elaborate?

  3. Out of the heart, the mouth speaks…in words. Words reflect what’s in the heart.

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