“WORST KIND OF POLLUTION” By Pastor YAU
Text: Ephesians 4:29-32 May 30, 2010.
1) Environmental pollution: Pollution is a frustrating problem to all of us. Everybody suffers with it, yet everybody contributes to it. Some of the pollution problems we are responsible, but others we are just unfortunate involuntary bystanders. Due to the explosion of an oilrig in the Gulf in mid April, oil spill is becoming a disaster to the fishing industry and everyday life of millions of people in the coastal states. Pollution in the air, water and environment has been named as a major cause of many respiratory diseases in particular and health problems in general. Billions of dollars had been spent to clean up the problems of pollution around the world.
2) Verbal pollution: Pollution takes many forms. One kind of pollution often overlooked is “verbal pollution” as Charles Swindoll calls it. He said: “Verbal pollution passed around in our everyday life by grumblers, complainers, and criticizers. The poison of verbal pollution creates an atmosphere of whole sale negativism where nothing but the worst side of everyone and everything is the focus.” In our everyday life, we certainly agree with Swindoll that negative or even vicious words are everywhere that can only degrade the value and dignity of people. Finding ways to combat this act of character flaw, especially among people of God, is more than necessary.
VERBAL POLLUTION IS A SERIOUS FLAW:
1) It is against God’s intent: Language is a gift of God like many other gifts we should treasure and preserve the best use we can to show our gratitude to God. Misuse of language is a sign of disrespect of God and His gift. Use of this precious gift in ways that violate the intent of God is not what Christians should do. Misuse the trust of God’s gift is a serious problem Jesus rebuked in Matthew 25:14-30.
2) It is against biblical teaching: The Bible has so much to say on the right ways of using words and language particularly in the books of Proverbs and James and here in Ephesians. We study the Bible more than just to find a way to salvation. We study the Bible also to learn about how to live a Christian life that will please God and promote His Kingdom.
3) It shows our spiritual condition: “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart and these make a man unclean.” (Matthew 15:18) We are familiar of “garbage in, garbage out” on computer language. It is the same way we show our inner nature and character by what comes out of our mouths.
4) It causes stumble and injury: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” (Romans 14:13) Words spoken carry effects either to build other up or to tear them down. Christians are not to use word or language to cause others to stumble and suffer injury in their faith in God or injury to their reputation and dignity.
CLEAN UP VERBAL POLLUTION: (7 steps in Eph. -32)
1) Guard our mouths: “Do not allow any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth.” (4:29a) We may be in a situation that is easy to say unwholesome words against someone, but we need to exercise control of our mouths. To have the thought of talking bad about others behind their back is bad enough. To allow the bad thoughts to become bad words and come out of our mouths is much worse.
2) Aim to build up: “But only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.” (4:29b) Aiming to build up others should be our goal when we open our mouths to say something. When our words are directed to others, we should be careful to see the potential effects they may do to them. It is unchristian to say things that hurting their feeling, reputation or character. We should care about their needs to grow and to build up more than our urge to express our self-righteous opinion or judgment.
3) Benefit the listeners: “That it may benefit those who listen.” (4:29c) Often times when we criticize, complain or grumbling about others, we do that not to the people we should talk to but instead to others who may have nothing to do with what we say. Paul asked that we be very careful on how our words may affect the listeners: are our words beneficial to their faith in God and growth as Christians? It is more than what we want to say. It is also how our words may affect those who listen to us.
4) Grieve not the Spirit: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (4:30) Paul used this word, lupeite in Greek, with 2nd person, plural, present, imperative, active to indicate a “command” instead of just a suggestion for all listeners to obey. To say anything that may cause the Holy Spirit of God to be saddened, painful and distressed is not what any Christian should do. To grieve people is bad, to grieve God is much worse.
5) More than bad words: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” () Just look at the list of things Paul urged the early Christians to get rid of, most of the items reflects the inner evil nature of men. Paul pointed out that unwholesome words and slanders that come out of our mouths are only external expressions of the internal corrupted nature of life. If we want to stop bad words come out of our mouths, we first need to rid off the evil nature on the inside. Without a closer walk with God, it is impossible to clean our hearts and curb our lips.
6) The best solution: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other.” (4:32a) Paul listed a 3-way solution to the problem at hand: be kind, be compassionate and be forgiving. These three steps are the foundation of all wholesome human relationship, be it in words or in deeds. Be kind is about our heart. Be compassionate is about our way of treating others, and be forgiving is the over-arching solution to eradicate any and all unwholesome words and evil deeds.
7) The bottom line: “Just as in Christ God forgave you.” (4:32b) Paul indicated the fact that we are all forgiven by God in our own shortfalls and unwholesome words and deeds, we should also forgive the unwholesome words and deeds of our fellow brothers and sisters. In his parable on forgiving in Mark -26, “When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Although forgiveness of our sins by God is by his grace, but more than once Jesus linked it to our forgiving the sins of our fellow men.
1) Be the light: Part of being the light of the world is related to the way we use our tongues and mouths. While the world is getting worse by the day in polluting the environment with lies, curses, bad and dirty words, ignorant criticism and baseless complaints, Christians are to use our words of truth to build others up for the good of God’s kingdom. Demonstrate our spiritual quality by using words and speeches to glorify God and lead others to know Him.
2) Be on guard: Living in this compromising world, it is very easy to follow the crowd in using our mouths in unwholesome ways. Stay close to God and His instruction on words in His Book, exercise self control in all situations in using words. Starting this practice on your own home, in the church, at your school or work and hopefully in the community. Help to clean the air with wholesome words that will benefit those who listen to us.
3) Rid the habit: It is very difficult to get rid of the bad habit of ignorant criticism, selfish complaint and vicious slandering by human efforts. We need God and His Spirit to gain control of our lips and mouth. Come and ask Jesus to enter your life and grant you power to control your words and deeds so you will become a blessing to people around you instead of their burden.