Words are powerful, especially if people take the time to think about them. We will celebrate our nation’s independence in seven days, and I think it’s safe to say that many of our citizens are listening to people’s opinions instead of taking time to consider wise words that have stood the test of time. I was wondering what I could do to speak into the shouting, texting, and posting that fills minds but rarely impacts the soul. So, for the sake of Independence Day, I wanted to share seven quotes to consider for each of the next seven days.
I want to challenge you to read and think about each quote. I hope these time-tested thoughts will make a difference in the deeper place that most words never reach. Christians should be the most thoughtful people on the planet, but we can only be thoughtful if we take time to think.
- From Socrates: “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” I think he makes an important point about all the words flying through our media that are supposed to address our emotions instead of our minds.
- From James Monroe: “It is by a thorough knowledge of the whole subject that (people) are enabled to judge correctly of the past and to give a proper direction to the future.” I would like to send these words to people who might suggest the answers for our country are easy, or to those who gain their truth from reporters who are simply paid to read what someone has prepared for them to say.
- From John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” Christians have the truth of God’s words, and his Holy Spirit can provide the wisdom, the will, and the character necessary to change the world. Christians need to lead by making themselves usable by God for his purpose rather than by using God for theirs.
- From Abraham Lincoln: “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” I wonder what will happen if we don’t close our borders. But I also wonder what will happen if we do. What would Abraham Lincoln suggest today?
- Again, from Abraham Lincoln: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We can all ask ourselves to speak the words and post the thoughts that make us stronger. Our job is not to destroy people. Our job is to help them succeed at doing right.
- From George Washington Carver: “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” What are Christians doing to make sure that our schools are equipped to educate our children? The most important Americans might be next year’s fifth- and sixth-graders.
- From Jesus’s prayer for his disciples: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Amen?
Words are powerful, especially when they are thoughtful—and thinking takes time. When did you last turn off the noise, the screens, and all those opinions to consider what is solidly true? God’s word is truth, but our culture believes it is our opinion. Could it be that we spend too much time speaking God’s truth rather than proving it as truth by the way we choose to live?
I’ll close with a couple of bonus quotes. The first has been attributed to St. Francis but might not be his. Even if these are his words, the author of his thought would probably be God. The quote: “Preach the gospel. When necessary, use words.” All of us will preach sermons today, everywhere we go. Our words can be ignored, but our lives will be noticed.
I’d like Peter to have the final word. His wisdom was gained from a life of experience and a soul that longed to serve Jesus. He gave this advice to his congregation, and it has been preserved in Scripture for us. Peter’s advice: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16).
May we be thoughtful this week about all that we should be thankful for. We are blessed beyond measure on earth because we live in a great country. But we will be blessed now and forever if we will live like our citizenship is in heaven.