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Series Growing in your love walk 8 "Controlling Your Tongue"

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Series: Growing In Your Love Walk—8

Love: Where The Rubber Meets The Road—“Controlling Your Tongue”

It was his first day on the job. He was just 17 years old and a new clerk in the ‘grocery’ department of a super market. An elderly lady came up to him and said she wanted to buy half of a head of lettuce. He tried to dissuade her but to no avail. Finally he said, “I’ll have to go back and talk to the manager.” He went to the rear of the store to talk to the manager,   [not noticing that the woman was walking right behind him]. When he got to the back of the store, he said to the manager:

“Get this! There’s some stupid old bag out there who wants to buy half a head of lettuce. What should I tell her?”

[Seeing the horrified look on the face of the manager, he turned around and, seeing the woman, added]

“And this nice lady wants to buy the other half of the head of lettuce. Will that be all right?”

This is the 8th message in a series “…”  Last week we talked about “Love: Where the Rubber Meets the Road”—and we dealt with the topic of being forbearing and forgiving of one another. Being ‘forbearing’ and ‘forgiving’ of others is not easy! But those are areas in which, when it comes to ‘love’—being forbearing and forgiving is indeed—“Where the rubber meets the road.”  Today, I want to continue on this topic of “Love: Where the Rubber Meets the Road—“Controlling Your Tongue.” Let’s begin with Ephesians 4:29-30

·         Ephesians 4:29-30 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [ESV] [Prayer “ . . .”]

 

3 Important Truths concerning our Speech:

► The ‘words of our mouth’ reveal ‘the state of our heart’ (i.e., our speech reveals the ‘real’ us)

·         Matthew 12:34 “…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” [NIV]

·         [NET] “For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart.”

► God is concerned with what comes out of our mouths (i.e., God will hold us accountable for our every word)

·         Matthew 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” [ESV]

 

► A tongue-under-control is a mark of true spiritual maturity (i.e., The tongue is the last “hold-out”)

  • James 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. [ESV]
  • James 1:26 If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. [NLT]

 

Note the context of Eph. 4:29—‘Putting Off’ the old man . . . ‘Putting On’ the new man

 

I. What We Are To “Put Off” Concerning our Speech  (“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…”)

 

The word “corrupting” is the English translation of the Gk word “sapros.” Sapros is used in the N.T. to describe rotten fruit (figs) and rotten and spoiled fish. In the OT sapros was a word used to describe Job’s putrid-rotten flesh from the infected boils with which he was inflicted. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe rancid cheese / spoiled left-overs.

Paul is saying in effect: “You are a ‘new-creation’ in Christ.!  In light of who you are ‘in Christ’… I command this:

“Let NO rotting, stinking, rancid, corrupt and corrupting talk come out of your mouth!”

 

1. Corrupting Talk includes:

 

► Gossip (decay-spreading conversation)

   One of my Dictionaries defines “gossip” as “a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others.”

***Some people have as their motto: “If you can’t say anything good about a person, Let’s Hear It.”

Three preachers decided to get together just to encourage and pray for each other.  One of them said, “You know, since all of us are such good friends…this might be a good time to share our biggest struggles.” All three agreed.

“Well”, said one, “ My biggest struggle is that I drink to excess.”

The 2nd preacher spoke: “I’m really troubled, brothers, I find myself lusting after a woman in my ch—and she’s married!”

The 3rd preacher reluctantly shared his greatest struggle:

“Well, here’s the dealI’m an incurable gossip. And I can’t wait to get back to my church!”

There’s simply no place, whatsoever, for ‘gossip’ in the Church of the life of the Christian!

·         Mat. 12:36 Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak.”]

► Cursing and Coarse Jokes

·         Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. [ESV]

***Personal Example: I had just arrived at Dallas Christian College. I had been a Christian for only three months. A group of students, including me, we standing around the parking lot—just shootin’-the-breeze and joking around—when I decided to share one of my own jokes. I hate to admit it, but it was a very crude, very course joke.  But I didn’t think it was any “big deal.”  And when I was done, instead of being met with laughter, there was an uncomfortable silence. And  there standing before me was a young, very sweet and innocent young Christian lady (who’s father happened to be a preacher) well, I looked up and tears were streaming down her face. My initial reaction was, “Hey, girl…get a grip! It was only a “joke.”  But later, in the quiet of my dorm room, conviction fell on me. I felt like the H.S. was saying—“Steve, you’ve overcome in some areas…now we need to deal with the words of your mouth.” And while I have/do slip on occasion, I vowed that night to repent and do away with all cussing, dirty language and jokes.

With much grace and great humility I speak the Word of the Lord who says to us all—“Clean up your mouth…!”

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

► Sarcastic-Belittling Humor (i.e., disguising animosity and hostility through so-call ‘innocent’ humor)

Winston Churchhill and aristocrat Lady Astor—both of whom despised the another—engaged in verbal sparring:

Lady Astor started the fight:  “Mr. Churchhill, if I were your wife, I’d put arsenic in your tea. “Madam”, he responded—

“If I were your husband, I’d Drink It.”

The fact is, we often disguise our hostility towards others by using sarcastic-belittling humor. We’ll say some kind of ‘put-down’ but quickly follow with the words—“But I’m only joking.”

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

► Abusive Speech (i.e., name-calling, verbal aggressiveness, intentionally pushing someone’s buttons just to hurt them)

**Remember the old adage we learned as a child: “Sticks and stones will break my bones; but words will never hurt me.”

Not true!  I can tell you from experience—There were words spoken to me by my father, that probably took me nearly 40 years to finally overcome…

·         Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

·         James 3:5-6 [The Message] A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

► Betraying those who spoke to us words spoken “in confidence”

 

·         Proverbs 11:13 A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence. [NLT]

·         Prov. 20:19 Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. [ESV]

·         [The Message] “Gossips can’t keep secrets, so never confide in blabbermouths.”

*** C. H. Spurgeon— “I never like people to tell me secrets, for I cannot keep them.”

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

 

► Angry/Complaining/Quarrelsome Words

 

·         Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. [ESV]

·         Proverbs 26:20-21 For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. As charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. [ESV]

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

 

► Negative Speech

Numbers 13-14 records how Moses sends 12 men to spy out the promised land. After 40 days they return. Joshua and Caleb bring a positive report—“God is with us, we can do it!” The other 10? “There’s giants in the land. No way, Jose!” Result: With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all Israel was consigned to 40 yrs of wandering in the wilderness!

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

In contrast to letting “no corrupting talk come out of your mouths”, Ephesians 4:29b says, “…but [speak] only such as is good for building up , as fits the occasion, that it may give grace [help] to those who hear.

***Paul’s rule of thumb is succinctly summed up like this—“If you can’t build up, shut up!”

 

2. What We Are to “Put on” Concerning our Speech. Edifying-Uplifting Speech includes:

 

► Words that Encourage Others [“…but [speak] only such as is good for building up [i.e., encouragement] . . .”]

Personal: I grew up with lots of negative words spoken to me…But the words that had the most positive and greatest impact upon my life—for ‘good’—included positive-encouraging words from the likes of Bruce Smith, Mark Berrier and others who helped me overcome the negativity of my past and made me believe that through the power of Christ, I could overcome and truly make a difference in this world.

 

► Words that are Appropriate for the Occasion [“…but [speak] only such . . .as fits the occasion . . .”

·         Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. [ESV]

·         [Ex. Of Paul/Barnabus] Acts 14:21-22 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. [ESV]

Note: Words that are “appropriate for the occasion” may, at times, also include words of Correction and Rebuke:

 

·         Psalm 141:5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it…” [ESV]

·         Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend…” [ESV]

·         Proverbs 9:8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. [ESV]

·         Proverbs 29:1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. [ESV]

 

One Caveat (qualification)—If you speak a word of Correction and Rebuke—“Speak the truth IN LOVE”:

  • Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

 

► Grace-filled Words that help Others [“…that it may give grace to those who hear.”]

  • Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. [ESV]

One thing important to realize—“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” This means that our words can either bring “death” to someone….OR our words can bring and breath “life” into someone. In fact, our ‘words’ can be “channels of God’s grace” to others.

Bottom Line: When it comes to “walking in love”…Where the Rubber Meets The Road, Love means . . .

Controlling Your Tongue!

What is God saying to us today?

1. It’s time to clean up our mouths! We are to “Put off”  any and all unwholesome talk that comes out of our mouths—including gossip, cursing, profanity, crude jokes, abusive speech and all the rest we have talked about today…And we are to “Put on” grace-filled words—words that encourage, build up and help others grow into Christ-likeness.

And why is it so important that we get control over our mouths and “let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths?”

Because we are representatives and ambassadors for Christ!  And if we talk as the world talks…our witness will be nullified—people will see and hear no difference between the children of God and the children of this world. And Christ will be dishonored. And may we all never forget the words of our Lord concerning the words of our mouth:

[Jesus says: “I tell you, on the day of judgment, you will give account for every careless word you speak…”]

·         Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! [ESV]

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