"Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." —Matthew 12:34b-37
Words are a pretty big deal in the Bible. With words, God created everything. With words - and His Word, the Bible - God communicates to us. Jesus himself is the Word who became flesh. Matthew 12:37 even says that by our words we will be acquitted or condemned. It is through words that we preach the good news; it is with words that we can tear up and break down.
Words are important to anybody and everybody. But especially to us, the Christian writers. Words are our craft. They're our trade. Our entire business is with words. So if the above passage applies to anybody, it applies to us!
By our words we will be judged. Our words are just one of the different evidences of fruit in our lives. Jesus repeatedly talks about fruit, as do the Epistles; by the fruit you bear will you be known. Evil people bear bad fruit. Good people bear good fruit. That's the way it works.
So how does this apply to us?
Ask yourself this: what kind of fruit is evident in your writing? What kind of words are you speaking?
Every time I read this passage of Scripture, I'm drawn towards verse 36: we will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word we have spoken.
If you're like me, that hits hard. Because with words, it's so easy to say something carelessly. Granted, that's somewhat harder to do with writing, but still...everything counts. Whatever we do...we are to do it for Christ!
So if this is true, then we don't have time to waste, to put it bluntly. We can't waste our words! If Christ is not in what we write or speak, should we be doing it? If Christ can't be found in our current work-in-progress, should we be writing it? If we are not wholly devoted to Him who created the CONCEPT of words...what are we doing to rectify that?
But it's hard! The Bible has so much depth to it; how can we possibly compare? We don't. But we try anyway. We are to capture the echoes of our Gospel and the intangible joy of our Good News. That's what being a Christian writer is about.
We will have to answer for every careless word we speak - and every careless word we write. Every time we had an opportunity to share the Gospel in our stories but didn't; every time we waste words on something that will never last; we'll have to answer for that.
So what will we say on that day? That we didn't want to risk offending someone in our writing? I hope that you see the absurdity in this. Either we believe it or we don't; if God calls you to put something more "preachy" in your writing, then do it! Otherwise, do we really believe this at all? If we aren't willing to give up this novel to Him and write this novel FOR Him - then why claim the title of Christian writer?
Dear writers and fellow believers! I want to tell this to you as lovingly as possible, but I don't want to sugarcoat it. We cannot write without Him. He is the one who enabled us to write in the first place; so why would we, as Christian writers, write something without first committing it to Him? And if we've truly committed our writing to him, will we be writing fluff fiction? Or worse, fluff fiction with a cardboard God?
I'm not trying to guilt you or make you write something explicitly Christian. My question is, are you writing what God wants you to? Are you following His leading? If the answer is yes, then the Christian content in your writing is between you and God, not you and me.
However, my statement still stands: our lives are too short (and our Commission too great) to waste writing petty things.
Don't be afraid to write something that others will call preachy. Listen to this:
"'Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Romans 10:13-14)
They cannot hear, and thus believe, without someone preaching to them. And if we're writing typical escapist fiction that has no depth whatsoever and no meaning to the reader...how is that preaching?
"But what if we turn them off from the Gospel?" is a typical reply. Here's the beauty of it: God's the one who opens the hearts of those ready to receive the Gospel. Not us. Our job is to preach what God tells us to. He does the rest.
So what must we do?
We must continue to write - but write for Him and write about Him. Out of the overflow of our heart our mouth speaks and our pen writes. Let us be so overflowing with Him and His goodness that our writing is bursting! Let the overflow of our heart overflow into others' hearts - so that everyone can taste, with every word they read, the glory of our majestic King!
This is your call, Christian writer! You have to write like there's no tomorrow, no words wasted, everything committed to Him who is worthy to receive everything we are.