“[A] good tongue is God’s dish, and he will accept it at his own table.”
Conference begins with the use of our tongues. We use our words to inquire concerning someone else’s spiritual condition. In Christ, we are called to love others deeply and this love motivates us to ask how they are doing and how their souls are faring. This is a real inquiry because it involves our willingness to sacrifice for their growth (time, energy, perhaps, material wealth) and the willingness to be available and vulnerable if they pose the same questions to us. The power of the tongue is recognized and scrutinized throughout Scripture. Thomas Adams writes: “[A] good tongue is God’s dish, and he will accept it at his own table. But an evil tongue is meat for the devil, according to the Italian proverb: ‘The devil makes his Christmas pie of lewd tongues.’ It is his daintiest dish, and he makes much of it; … on earth, to serve his turn as an instrument of mischief, … Thus, saith Solomon of the good tongue: ‘The tongue of the just is as choice silver, and the lips of the righteous feed many,’ Prov. 10:20, 21. But Saint James of the bad one: ‘It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.’” [Thomas Adams, Works, Vol. 3, 12. (italics mine)]
The lips of the righteous are nourishing lips. That is to say, the words of believers ought to be aptly spoken, beautiful in their setting, and able to bring healing to others. (Prov. 25:11; 12:18) When Christians get together to discuss a variety of spiritual topics (conference) it is not a dry review of theological truths but an active application of Scripture to the particulars of their daily lives. Conference is ministry. David Powlison describes ministry as “always helping people to make connections they haven’t been making.” (Speaking Truth in Love, 55.) This is a solid description of conference as well. When we assemble together as believers for conference, we want to ask two main questions: 1. How is your soul faring right now? Because this question might seem awkward at first, we can ask any one of a number of variations: what are you being challenged with right now? In your estimation, what is your greatest need at this moment? Or, over the last week or so, what spiritual struggles and victories have you experienced? And, borrowing the language of David Powlison, the second main question is: 2. “What does the Lord say that speaks directly into what you are facing?” (Powlison, 55.) Of course, the answer to this question requires the application of Scriptural truths. And these truths generally do not fall unmediated on to the ear of the troubled but rather are expressed by other believers who have experienced similar trials and found the character and promises of God to be a source of strength and comfort. Conference is really about you rubbing shoulders with other believers and making helpful connections between your circumstances and the promises and power of the Gospel. In the weeks and months to come, we will analyze and develop our list of diagnostic questions for the purpose of really helping each other grow in Christ. Exciting! Have a blessed week and we will see you on Sunday.
Love in Christ,
PS. Don’t forget the Family Dinner at 5 PM. And if anyone feels led to share a short testimony before our family meeting then please contact me after this Sunday’s service. Thank you.