Thursday, July 14, 2011

Put on the New Man, Including the New Tongue

Yesterday I spoke on what a Christian's speech should not be.  Today, I want to talk about what it should be.  I realize that knowing how not to speak does not tell us how to speak and so today I share what the Bible says regarding how we should speak.  I will begin where I ended yesterday.
[Let] your speech always [be] with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 NKJV
This is a great beginning and something we must always remember in our conversation.  Our speech must always be with grace and seasoned with salt.  This limits so much of what we can say.  Can we insult someone gracefully?  Can we threaten or wish for harm on another with grace?  Can we yell and scream and carry on at the ones we love gracefully?  Of course we can not.  This passage is not to say that we are never to confront someone.  We are called to confront our brothers and sisters who are caught up in sin, but we must always do so with grace.  We must remember that the goal of any confrontation is repentance and reconciliation.  For that to happen, our words must be tempered by the grace of Jesus. This also helps us in terms of dealing with sinners in the world.  Whenever we are wronged, we must also remember this passage.  We are not to blow up in wrath and anger, but follow the example of Jesus who forgave His tormenters, even from the Cross.  Finally, we must remember this in terms of what we consider to be the worst of the worst.  Some people in this world do some terrible things.  As I write this, there is a case in New York of a young boy who was killed and dismembered by a complete stranger that he just happened to ask for directions.  Even when speaking of a murderer like that, we must have our speech tempered by grace.  Jesus died for that person just as much as he died for us.  We should never ever wish for the damnation of another. 
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Ephesians 4:29 NKJV
The words we speak to others should be for necessary edification. In order to explain this, I must explain what edifying means.  I have heard this word used as a synonym for encouragement.  While edification is ultimately encouraging, it is not necessary encouragement.  Edification means to build up in Christ.  Sometimes in order to build, what is there must be torn down.  Sometimes construction is dramatic and painful.  I am sure if anyone ever saw a construction project part way done, it looks like a big mess.  Sometimes the process of edification looks the same.  Sometimes we need to challenge someone to repent of some sin in their lives.  Sometimes we need to counsel someone regarding a dangerous habit.  Whatever we say to our brothers and sisters and even to those in the world should be to their edification.  To the unsaved, we should never excuse their choice to reject God but share with them the love of Jesus Christ.  To the saved, we should never accept a sinful practice in their lives and we certainly should never encourage it.  We should not offer a beer to someone who struggles with alcohol, but challenge them to realize they do not need that drink to have a good time.  We should not encourage a relationship between a believer and a nonbeliever, but challenge them with the Word of God that those feelings can not be of God because God would not give us romantic feelings towards someone He told us not to be romantically involved with.  We should not accept a brother or sister who is just mean and grumpy and brush if off just as part of their personality, but we must remind them that they are new creations in Christ and challenge them put away that old man.  We must not be part of a husband doing some activity that hurts his wife, but challenge him to be with his wife and love her as Christ loved the church.  We must make sure what we speak to others is for their edification and not to just encourage or support bad behavior. 
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "[Let] each one [of you] speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:20-25 NKJV
I shared this verse yesterday about speaking lies.  Of course the opposite of lying is telling the truth.  It is one thing to not lie (as I shared yesterday), but it is another thing to speak the truth.  Many times, while not wanting to lie, we still do not tell the truth.  We may not want to offend an unsaved friend so while we may not tell them they are going to Heaven, we never share with them the truth of their true eternal destination lest they received Jesus as Lord and Savior.  There is no grey area here and often we try to live in that grey.  We tell our bosses we were stuck in traffic when we were ten minutes late, but we do not share that we left five minutes later than we should have.  Technically, its not a bold-faced lie, but it is certainly not speaking the truth.  I realize that the truth can sometimes be offensive and many times it can get us into trouble.  It is not easy to tell someone that they are doing something wrong or dangerous.  It is not easy to admit to your boss that you were as late as you were because you left late.  But what we think is easier (the grey area of not telling the whole truth), is more harmful to us in the long run.  Please do not think that God will ever make the wrong choice work out better for you than the right one.  We must always speak truth, even if that truth hurts us. 
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.  Ephesians 5:18-19 NKJV
We are to speak as we are filled with the Spirit.  This is not to pretend we are filled with the Spirit, but to live in the knowledge that the Spirit dwells within us and allowing Him to influence our speech.  This means that we speak to each other in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and making melody in our hearts to the Lord.  This is not to mean that we should be part of some spiritual musical, but it means that worship should always be part of our conversation.  We should talk about God and what He is doing in our lives.  We should talk about God and remind each other of how amazing He is.  We are called to give thanks for everything.  We should not be around each other grumbling and complaining, but finding what there is to be thankful about in any situation we are in and if we can not think of anything, we should give thanks anyway.  God's work in our lives should be an encouragement to others as God's work in their lives is an encouragement to us.  Whenever we see the work of God, we should rejoice and worship.  In other words, our speech should give glory to God. 

And that is a great place to end this lesson.  Our speech should glorify God. You can not blow up in anger and profanity and glorify God as those things represent sin and selfishness.  You can not lie and glorify God because dishonesty shows a lack of faith in God.  You can not downplay Jesus in your life and glorify God because, as Christian, Jesus is your life.  You can not insult others and glorify God because they are created in the image of God.  You can not grumble and complain and glorify God because that shows, once again, a lack of faith in God.  On the other hand, telling the truth always glorifies God.  This means having the faith to always be truthful even when it might hurt us.  Speaking the truth of the Gospel always glorifies God.  Speaking what is necessary for edification always glorifies God.  Sharing the grace of Jesus Christ no matter what someone else may have done to you or someone else always glorifies God.  And, finally, worship and thanksgiving always glorify God.  We must glorify God in all that we do, including how we speak to others.
And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17 NKJV

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