¡°SPIRITRUAL IN OUR SPEECH¡± By Pastor YAU
Text: Colossians 4:2-6 September 14, 2014.
1) You don't have to say anything: A teenage boy has a reputation of talking the wrong thing at the wrong time. When the family decided to attend a party celebrating a new born baby, the dad didn't want to bring him along in fear he might say something bad. But the boy really wanted to go and he promised his dad that he won't say a word from the moment they enter the home to the moment they step out of the home. So, his dad brought him along and he didn't say anything the whole time in that house. When they left the house after the party, as soon as he stepped outside the door, the boy turned around and talked to the proud parents of the baby: ¡°I promised my dad that I won't say a word in the party and I didn't. So, if your baby dies tonight, please don't blame me. OK?¡± If you don't have to say anything, just don't say anything.
2) God creates a mouth in all of us: Some people believe that God had a good reason of created us with two eyes so we can see more, two ears so we can listen more, but only one mouth so we can talk less. But real life experience tells us that just by talking less or not talking may not be the most important reason, but what to say and how say is more important in many cases like the above story. Some times, we just need to zip our lips up and say nothing, but other times we need to use the God given gifts, speech and words, to make a difference on the right side. Keeping silence all the time may not be the best policy. On the other hand, words from our mouth may cause us huge trouble we never expect but too late to take them back.
TWO FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH ON SPEECH:
1) Mouth and words are God's gifts: God created us with a mouth so we can eat to nourish our bodies to grow, to work, to serve, to live and to enjoy life. God also created words or languages (Genesis 6) so we can communicate, share, learn to enrich our lives and that of others. The Bible says: ¡°And God saw all that he had created, and it was very good.¡± (Genesis 1:31)
2) We are responsible for our words: In James 3:1-12, he presents us some important guidelines on the use of our mouth and speech. ¡°We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.¡± (3:2) Since there isn't any human who has never stumbled in words, so, there isn't any perfect man in this word. So, the problem isn't about the mouth or words or language, the problem is about how we use the good gifts God has created for us.
USING SPEECH FOR PRAYER: (4:2)
1) Prayer with devotion: ¡°Devote yourselves to pray, keeping alert.¡± (4:2) ¡°Devote¡± is from two Greek words: pro, to, and kartereo, be steadfast or continuously. The whole idea of prayer is ¡°to be courageously persistent,¡± or ¡°to hold fast and never let go.¡± Here Paul encourages Christians to have a constant and consistent prayer life without giving up. Jesus gave us parables on being persistent in prayer in Luke 18:1-8 and 11:5-10. Among many failures on our prayer life is our lack of staying power. Persistence in prayer doesn't mean it takes long time for God to listen to us, but it does mean that it takes long time for us to build our faith to pray. Paul continues to ask us that we should be alert to pray, not ¡°fall in sleep¡± when we pray. This is about not getting tired in prayer.
2) Prayer with thanksgiving: ¡°Keeping an attitude of thanksgiving.¡± (4:2b) This is the fifth time in this book Paul encourages Christians to be grateful. We are to be grateful for salvation (1:2), for growth (2:6), for fellowship with Christ and his church (3:15), the opportunity to serve (3:17) and here the privilege to pray to God. Be honest to the nature of your prayers: How often you begin your prayers with thanksgiving, showing God your gratitude for all his blessings on you? On the contrary, we often rush to ask God for all kinds of blessings, our needs and wants from him. When we pray with needs and wants, we ask God to give. When we start our prayers in thanksgiving, we give back to God for what he has done for us or given to us.
USING SPEECH FOR PROCLAMATION: (4:3-4)
1) Prayer for mission opportunity: ¡°Praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the work.¡± (4:3) Paul asked Christians to pray for mission opportunities to bring the gospel message to other places, other people groups, to more effective and productive ground to bring souls into the Kingdom of God. On our more individual level, we need to pray for opportunities of personal witnessing, bringing the gospel to people around us. If we must use our mouth and lips, prayer is a good way to use them for reaching people for Christ, both on personal and kingdom levels.
2) Prayer for wisdom in witnessing: ¡°So that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ. I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak¡± (4:4) ¡°Mystery¡± or ¡°hidden¡± mostly in the O T time, refers to the gospel message of Jesus Christ. Paul didn't just ask for God to open the door to other places or other people so he may present the gospel message. He also asked the Colossians to pray for wisdom he needed so he could present the gospel message clearly to all the listeners so they may understand and be saved. The success of gospel work needs to have new doors, new grounds. It also needs new methods, stronger efforts, clear speech in presentation so people can understand to accept the gospel. ¡°Ought¡± to speak means ¡°the way God wants him to.¡±
USING SPEECH FOR RELATIONSHIP: (4:5)
1) Mindful of wisdom in speech: ¡°Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders.¡± (4:5) ¡°Wisdom¡± includes ability of evaluation of circumstances and insights in making proper decisions as in 1:9. Here Paul urged us to be mindful on how we live, work, mingle and interact with people, particularly with those outside of God's family. To these people we need to exercise extra level of wisdom. Most unbelievers judge Christians on their words and deeds. It is imperative for Christians to be very careful what to speak and how to speak. Here are four ways to increase our wisdom level: a) Fear the Lord is wisdom. (Prov. 9:10) b) Seek God for gift of wisdom. (James 1:5) c) Study God's word of wisdom. (Col 3:16) d) Seek godly admonition. (Col 1:28)
2) Mindful of all opportunities: ¡°Making the most of the opportunity.¡± (4:5b) This is about the opportunity of witnessing with words and deeds. It is also about the opportunity of service to God and to others both in the church and in the world. ¡°Making the most¡± means using the opportunity to the utmost productivity for maximum results. Some may argue that God only cares if we are faithful, but the Bible records countless listings on numbers. We are to be mindful of all the opportunities God brings to us. Both in personal or in the corporate body, the church, we are to be sensitive to God's leadership and seize all opportunities to make disciples for Christ. We may use our speech to build friendship so we can spread the gospel to lead them to Christ. The most benefits we may bring to our friends is the gift of a new life in Jesus Christ.
USING OUR SPEECH FOR PERFECTION:
1) Fill our speech with grace: ¡°Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were with salt.¡± (4:6) Here Paul wasn't talking about spreading the gospel in our speech, but in our general conversation with others. Believers' speech must always be with grace, as was Christ's. (Luke 4:22) In all life conditions, good time, bad time, stressful time; with family, spouse, children, classmates or coworkers, we are to make gracious speech to all people in all times. To be gracious means spiritual, wholesome, fitting, truthful, purposeful, kind, sensitive, complimentary, gentle, loving and thoughtful. Seasoned with salt means to have good taste in all of our speech.
2) Ready to respond to all people: ¡°So that you may know how you should respond to each person.¡± (4:6b) Respond to ¡°each person¡± is our attitude to each people we may encounter in our life time. We need to have proper attitude to each person, treat them with equality and respect. Christians are not to be bias in our attitude or speech regarding classes, races or social-econ-mic differences. There should be no trace of discrimination toward anyone. The other side is we need to be ready to give an answer to anyone regarding our faith and deeds as in 1 Peter 3:15, ¡°But in your heart, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.¡±
1) Let's keep both: There is a saying: To speak is silver, but silence is gold. How about we want to keep both: time to speak and time to be silent. There are times we need to be silent, but other times we need to speak. We need to seek God's wisdom to know what is the right time. God gives us a mouth so we can speak our mind, communicate our ideas, express our feelings, share our thoughts and witness to the loss. Not to speak may not be the best choice. Knowing when to speak and what to speak is more important.
2) We can do better: I believe we all are guilty of wrongs in speech in the past. We can't eradicate the past, but we can start revamp our speech for the better. So, sit down, and examine your past failures in speech, one by one, write them on a piece of paper on the left side of the page. Then on the right side, write down steps you can do better either by complete eradication or modification to smooth out some rough spots you have found in the past. Make a commitment to change your speech to glorify God and benefit others.