Sunday, May 20, 2018
Connected: My Life in the Body of Christ
Connected by Our Words
Session 4 of Connected is called “Connected Through Words” and The Point is, “Our words matter.”
Our words matter. Our words can tear up the body of Christ and it can rip it apart. We have been redeemed from rotten speech. The question now is whether or not we will live in redemption or rebellion.
Introduction: Did you realize that you will spend 1/5 of your life talking? It is said that if our words were put to print each day would fill a 50-page book; within a year’s time the average person would fill 132 books that are 200 pages each1. Talk is an important part of our life.
We also know that speech can be used to tear down, and it can be used to glorify God. Our words can tear down, and our words can build up. God invented talk, Satan attempted to destroy it, and God is in the process of restoring it. The way we talk reflects whether our lives are patterned after redemption or rebellion.
The first 3 chapters of Ephesians tell the story of God redeeming broken people and a broken world. Beginning in chapter 4 the apostle Paul outlines what it means to live in redemption instead of rebellion. Jesus said that our speech determines what is in our hearts (Luke 6:43-45).
To live in redemption means that we connected to each other in Christ Jesus. If that is the case, then we must speak with integrity, building up, and be seasoned with grace.
I. Connected by our words means speaking with integrity (Vs. 25)
Notice how Paul frames each of these verses. In almost every one of these directives it will follow a pattern; Paul will tell us the negative, make it positive, and then give a motivation. Not only are we to “not lie” but we are also to “speak truth”.
We are to walk in integrity and our words plays a huge part in that. Do our words line up with our confession? Can God say to Satan about us what He told him about Job:
Job 2:3 “And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.”
Why do people think they need to lie? I believe it can be summed up in six reasons: to impress people, to escape consequences, to keep peace, malicious slander, denial, and callous habits. What is really going on in each of these instances is idolatry.
What exactly is a lie? Simple put - false statements; untruthfulness; deceit.
The Wikipedia entry for the word “lie” describes 28 different kinds of lies, including bad faith, barefaced, big lies, bluffing, and “butler lies” (such as texting someone that you have to go because the waiter is at your table when you aren’t even at a restaurant). And those are just the ones that start with the letter B!
Unless the lying heart is cured we will never speak with integrity. We’ll lie when we ought to tell the truth and we’ll refuse to speak the truth when it is difficult. Our heart can reflect who we truly are.
Prov. 27:19 “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man.”
Negative: Jer. 17: 9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”
Positive: Ezekiel 36:26 “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
What does your truth-telling say about your relationship with Jesus? Where are idols that need to be cast down in order for you to be more truthful?
II. Connected by our words means keeping our anger in check (Vs. 26-28)
Not all anger is sin. We may respond in controlled anger to injustice and sin, but we should never be consumed by anger.
Prov. 16:32 “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit (speech) than he who takes a city.”
Believer’s should always seek opportunities to express Christ’s love to everyone. Doing the contrary will give opportunity to the devil to enter in and destroy our witness.
The thief, Satan, is empowered to kill, steal, and destroy when we allow anger to build up and become bitterness, unforgiveness, and unrighteousness.
III. Connected by our words means speaking graciously for the sake of building up (Vs. 29-30)
Our speech is less about specific words and more about issues of the heart. There are rotten words and pure words. Though he is talking about Ephesians 5:4 “Let there be no filthiness nor foolishness talk or crude joking, which are out of place.”
Rude, lewd, warped, or off-color speech is out of place. ‘Foolish talk’ describes the speech of fools. Biblically a fool is someone who’s lacking not in intelligence but in the fear of God.
Foolish talk ridicules or disregards the moral law of God. In this context, ‘crude joking’ describes humor with sexual overtones. Any speech relating to immorality, perverse humor, and just plain dirty jokes has no place for one who has been made new in Christ.
Filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking are ‘out of place’—they’re forbidden not because they’re on some arbitrary ‘banned words’ list, but because they reflect the heart and attitude of those who disregard God and his Word.
2 Timothy 2:14-17 “Remind them of these things and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.”
Our call in this text is not simply to avoid saying bad things; our call in this text is to be actively engaged in building up others and giving grace to those that hear us. Silence is not the answer; transformed grace-giving speech is the answer.
We are to speak in such a way that people get a taste of Jesus when they talk to us. At the end of our conversation people should walk away having a greater appreciation for Jesus, greater security in the gospel, greater motivation for holiness, less of a love for the world, and more of a love for Jesus. We ought to be encouragers as we remind people of the beauty of the gospel, and the holy love of God.
How have you been actively building up the people around you? Do the folks in your life have a greater taste of Jesus when they talk to you?
Our words could fill the pages of countless book. These pages would be available for all to see and internalize. We’ll be judged by the words in these books. Such a truth should cause us to use far more caution with the words we use.
4 helpful questions to ask ourselves before allowing our words to flow out of our mouths.
It would probably be a decent idea to write these down and really consider them. I want to challenge you to think deeply on these and introduce them into your everyday language:
1. First, what is my motive for speaking? What is my reason for responding to this person? What do I hope to accomplish by opening my mouth?
2. Second, what impact will my words have on this person? Will it tend to tear them down or build them up?
3. Third, what impact would my words have on me if the situation were reversed?
4. Fourth, what would Jesus say?
It simply comes down to one simple question: "does my speech build up or does it tear down?”
If we find that our words are not according to living in redemption, then we need to repent and come to Christ for healing and forgiveness. Let us be more intentional about the way that we speak.