Excellent or Praiseworthy is posted on Monday and Thursday nights.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so. —Psalm 107:2
It has been a summer of “verbalizations”. Weddings we have gone to, where the bride and groom declare their vows to each other, to witnesses, and to God. Funerals we have attended where eulogies are offered—and then relatives and friends have an opportunity to “tell the stories” of the loved one who has passed. Baptisms we have observed where the new Christians have chosen to be immersed as a sign of their decision to follow Christ and who take a moment to speak to the congregation of their testimony of faith. Reenlistment and commissioning ceremonies where service-members promise to defend our country—against all enemies, foreign and domestic. There’s just something about speaking a truth that makes it real.
Turns out this “say so” is biblical, and Oswald Chambers spoke on this very topic in one of his last sermons while serving as a chaplain with the forces in Egypt during World War I. On August 12, 1917, this great theologian said,
We are apt to use words without having any idea of their meaning. In a crisis a word is really an ‘open sesame,’ and in certain spiritual, moral and emotional crises if we do not say the word, emancipation will never be ours. Think of it in a simple way. When a child knows it has done something wrong and you want him to say he is sorry, the natural inclination of the child is stubbornly to refuse to say he is sorry; but until he does say so, there is no emancipation for him on to a higher level in his own life. This is the key to the way we are built all through; it is true not only in a child’s life but in the moral domain, and emphatically true in the spiritual domain. Many of us are on the verge of a spiritual vision the realization of which never becomes ours because we will not open our mouths to ‘say so.’ We have to ‘say so’ before we ‘feel so.’ The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the ‘sacrifice of praise.’ If we only praise when we feel like praising, it is simply an undisciplined expression, but if we deliberately go over the neck of our disinclination and offer the sacrifice of praise, we are emancipated by our very statements. We can slay a grousing mood by stating what we believe, and we are emancipated into a higher level of life immediately; but the ‘say so’ must come before the emancipation is ours. (Chambers, p. 1049)
I experienced this in my own life when I became a Christian. I had repented of my sin and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ while my husband was deployed in 1980, but it wasn’t until I verbalized this decision—sharing it with my husband and later with my church, that I began to freely grow. The apostle Paul in Romans 10:9,10 states it this way: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Interesting, huh?
Oswald Chambers goes on to say in The Place of Help, “If you want to encourage your own life in spiritual things, talk about them. Beware of the reserve that keeps to itself, that wants to develop spirituality alone; spirituality must be developed in the open.” (Chambers, p. 1049) Many churches still incorporate a time of “testimony and sharing” during their weekly services, and it is a tremendous encouragement to hear how others are being challenged in their lives by their decision to walk by faith. This is one way in which we learn. Church members need to share how God is working in their lives, and the others need to hear.
Have you also seen this principle of verbalization take place in your marriage? At some point while “dating” one of you must have taken that big leap by saying, “I love you!” On the basis of that, your relationship changed. If the feeling was mutual, then more and more steps were taken, more and more truths shared—and you decided to make your decision public in a wedding ceremony. Hopefully you didn’t stop there—and you have continued to say “I love you” and have shared your deeply-felt emotions ever since. We have all seen marriages where there seemed to be a starvation of affirmation—where one spouse may not feel secure in the relationship because loving words are not shared. The “say so” is missing.
As Christians, our “say so” does not end with the public proclamation of our commitment to Jesus Christ. By faith, we have the opportunity every day to speak words of deep conviction when we pray, based on the truth of Scripture and not just our feelings. We can praise and adore our God, even when we do not understand what He is doing. We can confess our own sins, even when we are disappointed in someone else. We can thank our Father for the many blessings He has given us, even when everything seems to be going wrong. We can pray for someone else, even when they are far away.
And in our marriage we can “say so”—by speaking of our love even when we don’t feel it. And something in those words opens the door to unselfishness—to the desire to be a better husband or wife. Especially when separated by deployment. Your spouse needs to hear that they are loved—and that starts when you “say so.” You need to say it as much as they need to hear it. I don’t understand exactly how it all works, but I believe that Oswald Chambers has identified a truth in our relationship with God—and in our relationship with our spouse.
Chambers, Oswald, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids:Discovery House Publishers, 2000)
Questions to Share:
1. Have you been stingy in your praise of your spouse? What would they say about this question?
2. Have you neglected your prayer life? What would God say about this question?