September 2, 2007

Just say it . . .

My husband had a relative we called “Grandma Cooper” even though she was not his grandmother. Everyone spoke highly of her goodness and strength of character. I had never heard her say anything about God and wondered if she was a Christian.

One day my curiosity motivated a visit. When I arrived, she was not feeling well and looked positively gray, but she invited me in and we had a cup of tea. Finally, I asked her, “Grandma, if something happened to you today and you died tonight, do you know if you would go to heaven?”

She replied that she had that assurance. Then I asked, “If you stood at the gates and God said to you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say?”

She responded, “Oh, it wouldn’t be for anything I did. It would be because Jesus died on the cross for me.”

I had my assurance about this special lady, but a wonderful thing happened to her as she spoke about her faith; the gray turned a lively color. Grandma Cooper’s countenance changed from overcast to bright sunshine, and the more she talked about her faith, the more ‘life’ flowed from her. Her words seemed to recharge her whole being.

Yesterday’s verses in Matthew described the Gentile woman asking Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter. She called Jesus “Son of David,” a term used by the Jews. She had no claim to use this term, and Jesus told her “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. . . . It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Then she responded by calling Him “Lord” and he healed her daughter.

Mark relates the same incident, but doesn’t mention the ‘Son of David’ part. He seems to put more emphasis on the fact that she called Him Lord. Chapter 7:28-29 say, “And she answered and said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.’ Then He said to her, ‘For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.’”

In Matthew, Jesus commended her faith. In Mark, He is quoted as commending her “for this saying. . .” Is there a difference between these two versions of what Jesus said? I don’t think so. The Bible is clear about faith; it is not silent. There is a connection between what I believe and what I say.

In fact, saying what I believe is part of my salvation. Romans 9:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

A few verses later, it says, “the same Lord . . . is rich to all who call upon Him” and I am reminded of many verses that talk about calling on the name of the Lord or crying out to Him, not a silent prayer but an audible one.

Grandma Cooper’s expression of her faith not only added physical vitality, but it boosted her spirit, as it did mine. In my own experience I’ve realized how verbal prayer does something for me also, particularly when I pray alone. As I express aloud what is in my heart, things come out that I don’t realize are there; I am instructed concerning my own spiritual condition. I also find myself offering praises with greater enthusiasm as I allow the Holy Spirit freedom with my speech.

Regardless of what verbal expressions to God do for me, would anyone know that I believe in Jesus Christ if I didn’t say anything to them? Sometimes spiritually sensitive people pick it up, or other Christians figure it out, but most of the time, words are needed. It is also a matter of integrity. From what I’ve read and thought about this morning, it is not only important to God that what is going on in my heart matches what comes out of my mouth, but that it actually does come out of my mouth!

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