Just keeping it real? Is that really what He wants?

When I was young, I was told- “If you don’t have anything nice to say- Don’t say anything!!!” It seemed to be the catch-all for complaints, insults, and downright undisciplined outbursts of negativity. As I grew older, I became familiar with a culture that seemed to value transparency over all else. It seemed the best thing was to keep it real- say what you want to say. Don’t be a two-faced poser and hold it in. Let it out!

I wrestled with these two ideas for some time. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, but I felt that decent behavior required some form of restraint. After all, there is some behavior that constitutes rudeness. You have to draw the line somewhere. Then the Lord reminded me of this verse,

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29

So when it comes to our speech, the obvious standard that God has raised is not whether or not we are keeping it real- but whether we are edifying others. Whether or not we are building them up.

So if you find yourself wanting to say something that might not be pleasant- don’t blurt it out under the pretense of transparency. Hold back, let the Holy Spirit lead you. Are you speaking to build the character of others? Or simply to gratify yourself in saying what you want?

I challenge you, don’t let your words be worthless expressions that you scatter with no purpose. Speak with the purpose of advancing the kingdom of God. Speak to build the character of others. Speak to build their confidence. Speak to build alliances between people that were once enemies.

Your words need not be the unceasing reflection of your every thought. They can be the best and most refined product of your highest thoughts. This is in no way two-faced hypocrisy. It is a mark of maturity found in only the most restrained of God’s kingdom.

I challenge you, speak well.

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When you need the utterance

Have you ever seen someone speak the truth, but you knew that something about it wasn’t right. Perhaps it was their attitude, or maybe they were addressing a side issue when they probably should have focused on something else. In short, they spoke what they believed to be right, but it was not led by the Spirit at all. They were in the flesh, and the truth that they spoke seemed to go unheeded.

That is how the speech of many Christians is, when they do not try to give truth according to the Spirit’s leading. It’s not that God can’t do anything with that sort of speech, it is simply that He could do so much more if they would heed His leading.

Paul gives a very clear example of this when He asks the Ephesians to pray for him. He asks them to pray, “for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

So let’s break this down, Paul asks for utterance, or speech, so he can speak boldly to preach the gospel. He mentions that the gospel is the reason he is an ambassador in bonds, and because he is an ambassador, he should speak boldly.

I think the key to truly understanding this short passage is understanding the world “utterance.” It’s a very common word that refers to spoken word or speech. Here’s the key, Paul wasn’t asking for boldness. He was asking for words so that he could speak boldly. That’s the key to understanding this whole passage.

Paul was asking that the Ephesians would pray that God would give Him the words to say so that he could speak freely and with confidence and declare the mystery of the gospel. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” If you look throughout the Bible, you will find many men of God who declare God’s truth. And when they declare it, things happen. I honestly believe the best way to declare God’s truth is to declare His truth after receiving His utterance. When you receive utterance from God, you can truly speak boldly and with freedom and declare His truth with maximum effect.

I challenge you to first declare God’s truth. Both with your life, and with your words. Secondly, I pray that you would receive utterance to speak with boldness, and that you would be sensitive to God’s leading in how and when to speak His truth.

Worse than sticks or stones

I’m sure we have all heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never hurt me. ” I was never quite sure about what I thought about that statement, but now I have found that it directly contradicts the Word of God.

Proverbs 18:8 tells us, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” That’s a pretty strong statement concerning words. God says very clearly that words can produce great damage.

When someone slanders you, it can be hurtful. It can be damaging. People especially children can be damaged by hurtful words that are spoken about them. As Christians, we should never be the source of such damage. If we are the recipient of such attacks we should remember the behavior of Christ when He was the subject of ridicule and false accusation.

Isaiah 53:7 tells us how Jesus reacted to slander. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not hismouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

This prophecy was fulfilled right before Christ’s crucifixion. Mark 14 reveals that many people told lies about Jesus and twisted his words. Verse 61 tells us, “But he held his peace, and answered nothing.” Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, did not feel the need to defend Himself. Why do we? Remember, although the words of a talebearer may be as wounds, you don’t need to defend yourself every time someone speaks evil of you. Let your conduct and your character speak for you. And yes, the words may hurt, but God has the power to heal you.

Let us not vainly struggle to fight in our defense. Let us be as Christ who decided to leave the final judgment to God. When the words of others hurt us, we can call on the Lord. And then we can say, like the Psalmist:

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” – Psalm 30:2

Don’t forget, though the words of a talebearer may be as wounds, God is on your side.

When the heart teaches the mouth

Speaking the right thing all the time is nearly impossible. In fact, I think it is safe to say that it is impossible. The Bible tells us that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Now I’m not completely sure about everything that analogy means, but it is pretty clear that speaking the right things at the right time can be a great blessing.

When I was younger, I always had a problem with saying the wrong things at the wrong time. I was told repeatedly, “You need more self-control!” So I would think about my words all the time; I’d concentrate for hours on biting my tongue, but no matter how hard I tried, I would eventually spend a good part of the day regretting something I said.

Times have changed. I still say many things I regret, but I’ve learned a better way to control my tongue than spending every waking moment thinking about it.

Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.”

Luke 6:45 states, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

If you have trouble keeping your tongue from saying improper things, then you are having trouble with your heart. Think about the last part of that verse. It says, “For of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”

If your tongue does need a little control, and you are feeling a little discouraged, take heart! God can mold you into the person He needs you to be. We can’t change our speaking habits on our own any more than we can change our own heart condition. We must decide for the right, and ask God to help us and shape us into who we need to be.

We must humble ourselves and ask God for the power to change. After all, “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

As you rely on God to transform you, remember His charge to, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” – Proverbs 4:23

As you decide to take the journey to purify your heart, you only need to watch as your renewed heart will teach your mouth and add learning to your lips.

 

A blessing for a child, a lesson for us all

Remember the time that the people brought the children and the disciples rebuked them? It’s found in Mark 10:13-14. It says,

“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Verse 16 was interesting however, “And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” I never quite realized it, but the people had brought the children to Jesus so He could lay his hands on them and bless them. Why? The idea of desiring someone’s blessing isn’t really found in our culture today. I mean, really? Blessing . . .

Thinking again about the situation, I’m sure some of them knew He was God, but most of them just thought he was a prophet. (Matthew 16:13-14) So what is so special about a blessing from a prophet?

My contemplation ended when I surmised (yes, that’s a fancy word for guess) that these people understood the power of words.

Looking at the lives of the patriarchs, we find that both Isaac and Jacob blessed their descendants before they died. This blessing seemed to carry on beyond their lifetime. The blessing of these great men changed the lives of their children. In another place in the old testament, a king offered a large sum of money to a guy named Balaam (Numbers 22). The king wanted the guy to curse Israel. God intervened, and commanded Balaam to bless Israel instead. Apparently, the patriarchs, an ancient king, new testament Jews, and even God regarded the spoken word as a powerful thing. So, my thought for you today, is that maybe we should value the words that we speak. Maybe what we say is important.

After all Proverbs 18:21a says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:”

I would like to challenge you, think about the words you speak. Are they encouraging, positive, and loving? Or are they complaining, backbiting, hateful, and cursing? No matter who you are, your words have power, and they cannot be unsaid. I would go so far as to say that you will decide your future by how you govern your mouth. Will you ask God to help you use your speech to His glory?

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouths: but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29

What’s your communication like?

As Christians, we know that we are not called to have corrupt communication come out of our mouths. When most people think of corrupt communication, they think of swearing. I would like to share with you today how corrupt communication is more than swearing.

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." This verse contrasts corrupt communication with words that edify and give grace to those who hear. So our speech isn’t just restricted from filthiness, but restricted to things that are profitable.

This isn’t something that is easy to hear. For most of us it is natural to say things that are not profitable. Today, being April Fools day, I know I have said many things that are not profitable. The Bible is very clear on this matter though. It says, "every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."

In light of these verses, I would like to challenge you to purify your speech so it edifies and brings grace to others. With all the words you say every day, it may sound impossible, but we know that with God all things are possible. We also know that if we walk in the Spirit, we will naturally not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Let us ask God to help us control our mouths. With God, we can bring ourselves under subjection to His commands. When we fulfill His commandments, we can enjoy fellowship with Him on a whole new level.

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain." – James 1:6

Worthless words

Many times in our Christian walk, we can find ourselves speaking things that are not profitable. Perhaps we didn’t like the style of a preacher, or we think our coworker is weird, or perhaps we simply do not like someone. Our words should not be destructive to the unity of the faith. Christ commands us to speak things that build one another up.

Ephesians 4:29 says, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." No corrupt communication, this passage is often used to condemn swearing, but I would like to submit a different application. The word ‘corrupt’ means worthless. How many times to we engage in idle talk that does nothing for the kingdom of God. Derogatory comments, perhaps not meant maliciously, are still worthless. Arguing over doctrine for the sake of controversy, is worthless. Giving someone correction simply because you want it done another way, is worthless. How often do we waste our time in frivolous talk. How much of our short life do we spend speaking things that do not edify the body of Christ?

I would like to encourage you, examine your words. Our words can have a profound affect on those around us. They can be used to edify, encourage, and exhort the brethren, or they can be used to waste time and even tear apart the unity of Christ. Don’t spend your words creating division or discussing worthless things. Christ commands us to spend our words edifying and ministering grace to the body of Christ. Let us strive to fulfill that command.

"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." – Matthew 12:36-37