“Put your money where your mouth is” is a common expression most of us have used more
than once. It’s origin is attributed to the Irish and is believed to be connected to gambling,
particularly card playing. The idea is that if you're convinced of something, then back it up with
some bucks, some muscle, for you can bluff only so long. If, for example, you have what you think
is a winning poker hand, staring your opponent down will work temporarily, but at some point you will need
financial back up which you will then brazenly flaunt on the table before you.
In the case of the expression just mentioned, to “put” translates to “ante up”, or to put money in the pot.
There’s a possibility that the Irish really shouldn’t take all the credit for this expression. Maybe we need to go
back a little further than Irish history on this one. Ezra is our man. Scripture shows us that there’s a lesson
he learned with a little embarrassment and trembling along with it.
“For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and calvary to accompany
us and protect us from the enemies along the way. After all,
we had told the king that our God would protect all those who worshiped Him,
and that disaster could come only to those who had forsaken Him.
So we fasted and begged God to take care of us.”
In surveying the book of Ezra, you might wonder why he is included in the minor prophets because much of
his book has to do with genealogy, and not one which readers can easily relate to. For me, the two verses
that are the most telling are the ones above.
Ezra was indeed a prophet. He was a scholar of religion and lived his life dedicated to teaching the
revelation of God. The reigning King Artaxerxes had given his blessing on the temple restoration project and
Ezra had gotten himself into a fix, or rather his mouth had. He had bragged about God’s protection of the
righteous: the righteous referring to himself and the committed Jews. Nothing wrong with that, but he began
doubting his own words and backed himself into a corner. It’s a natural thing. Faith requires that we believe
even though there may not be a glimmer of physical proof in sight. I’m a practicing example. Once you’ve
put it out there, your faith will be tested every time. For Ezra’s part, just in case God needed a little
motivating, he went on a fast and pleaded with
God to come through for him in his self-created quandary.
As it turned out, Ezra realized that no Levites had volunteered to take part in what was supposed to be a
mutual spiritual endeavor, and in time with some clever persuading additional men came forward, most
particularly from the absent Levite tribe.
Did God take care of them? Of course. And Ezra had no need to doubt. Neither do we. When we speak
forth words of faith we are also taking our stand at the same time;
putting our money where our mouth is.