“Remember Jesus Christ… . Imparting the word of truth without deviation.” (2 Timothy 2:8,15)

“Words, words, words.” A con­temporary one-act play by that title explores the absurd proposition that if you sat a monkey down in front of a keyboard for long enough, he could eventually produce a Shakespeare play. We might think of that proposi­tion as we see Paul warning Timothy to avoid “disputing about words,” which “serves no useful purpose” (2 Timothy 2:14). Perhaps this led Timothy to examine his own speech to make sure everything he said was true, useful, and edifying—a worthy exercise for all of us!

However, Paul goes deeper than that. Timothy should never be satis­fied with just words. He should focus on Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. Words have an important role to play in leading someone to a fuller grasp of the truth, but what ulti­mately matters is a life-giving encoun­ter with the Word made flesh.

Of course, it is helpful to be famil­iar with the written word of God. But it is possible to know the word of God and still not know Jesus, the incarnate Word. Far more arresting is a person who clearly has an intimate relationship with Jesus and speaks out of that closeness. Even when he is at a loss for words, unable to come up with an adequate answer to a sin­cere question, people are drawn by his sincerity, and they feel Jesus’ love reaching out to them through him.

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son … who is … the very imprint of his being” (Hebrews 1:1-3). God has revealed many truths and aspects of his character and his plan for humanity through the words pre­served in Scripture. But Jesus doesn’t just speak these truths, he embodies them. And through the power of his Holy Spirit, he enables us to embody them as well.

So don’t be too worried about choosing the right words or mak­ing the right impression. Rather, be concerned that the people who meet you catch a glimpse of the divine Lover. Then your words will be mov­ing echoes of the Word himself.

“Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths. All your paths, O Lord, are mercy and truth.”

Psalm 25:4-5,8-10,14 Mark 12:28-34