“WHAT TO SAY AND HOW TO SAY IT?” By Pastor YAU
Text: Ephesians 4:25-32
1) How the world says things? Some say that anonymity is the last refuge for cowards. Judging from mail and comments we have received and read that have been submitted anonymously, we all will agree. People hiding behind the screen of anonymity feel the freedom to launch angry, hurtful and sometimes untrue tirades. Anonymity allows them to be unkind or even vicious without having to take responsibility for their words.
2) How should we say things? Christian writer Julie A. Link has a different way of saying what she wants to say. She said: “Whenever I am tempted to write something anonymously because I don’t want to be identified with my own words, I stop and reconsider. If I don’t want my name attached to my words, I probably shouldn’t be saying them. Then I do one of the two choices: I either toss it out or rewrite it in a way that won’t hurt the dignity of my name and that of the recipient.”
WHAT TO SAY? Just a few examples:
1) Say things that are true: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:16) Thousands of years later, Jesus echoed this important rule of speech in Matthew , “Simply let your Yes, be Yes, and your No, be No. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Honesty is the best policy of life, a golden rule in regard to our everyday life. Beside all the benefits of being truthful, it is the law given both by God and Jesus.
2) Say things that are right: When his friends accused him of being evil and unrighteous, Job defended himself, “My lips will not speak unrighteousness (wickedness), and my tongue will not utter deceit.” (Job 27:4) We are not just to say things that are true, we are to say things that are right. Job claimed that he did more than just say the truth, he also said the right thing. Some of us may say the true things, but the true things may not be the right things to say. Being truthful must go with being rightful.
3) Say things that are clean: “For God’s holy people, there should be no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place,” (Ephesians 5:3-4) We hear this expression: “You are what you talk.” Our speech represents our character and reflects what is on our inside. Keeping our words pure and clean is one of the powerful ways to demonstrate our Christian character. Be careful in things we say and words we use are clean that reflect who we are on our inside.
4) Say things that are helpful: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful in building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29) This is one of the verses in out text today when Paul encouraged the early Christians to focus on their responsibilities to others, especially those in God’s church. He stressed the importance of using our words to build others up. This includes cutting out unwholesome talks that may bring others down in their efforts of building Christian character. Our use of words and speeches is a powerful weapon that may help to build others up or to tear them down.
HOW TO SAY IT? Here are only a few examples.
1) Say it with love: “Instead, speaking the truth in love.” (Eph. 4:15) Truth here may mean pure doctrine, may be words of edification, Paul encouraged the Ephesians to say things in love. The whole purpose of saying either doctrinal truth or building up someone, we must have a proper attitude that is love. We may not use doctrines or words to hurt people. Every time we say things to others, it must be from our loving attitude. When love is in, all words and speeches are seasoned for good.
2) Say it with grace: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt.” (Colossians 4:6) Seasoned with salt in the Bible means well preserved and tasteful. Paul encouraged us to speak with grace to achieve that result. Being gracious or graceful when we speak, particularly about others. Being graceful or gracious is not an option, it is a mandate. We see so much brutal words and statement made against each other in the world that has become norm of the time, Christians should be gracious in use of words and attitude when making speeches.
3) Say it appropriately: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) This famous sentence of the Bible has been quoted millions of time to encourage the use of words in appropriate settings. This may include appropriate words, attitude, presentation skill, gesture, motive and manner. Many otherwise good and right words were spoken without the attention of appropriate setting turned into unnecessary troubles and even conflicts. It is more than what you have to say. It is also about why and how and when you say it.
4) Say it in the Lord’s name: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17) This is the final and the highest guideline we need to pay attention to when we say things: Say it in the name of the Lord and to His Father. Whatever we say to whomever may be, we say it to the Lord. No one dare to say unwholesome things or with impure motive to anyone if we realize that we say it to the Lord. We need to be careful that the name of the Lord will not be degraded or receive damage by the words we speak.
WHAT NOT TO SAY: (Ephesians -32)
1) Do not speak lies: “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor.” () Speak lies has become a norm in the world. Honesty has become a rare commodity at home, in marriage, at work, in politic, and even in courts. Lies hurt both the liar and the lied to.
2) Do not speak in anger: “In your anger, do not sin.” () Many of us are guilty of speaking bad words in anger. When we are angry, we can’t control our mind and anything comes to our thought, they are out with no return. We all know the pain of spoken bad words in anger and suffer consequences. How many times we regret words we said in anger but it is too late.
3) Do not speak foul words: “Never allow any foul word pass through your lips.” ( TCNT)Foul words are dirty words. We need to keep our lips clean from speaking dirty words, even filthy jokes. Filthy words and dirty joke are sign of impurity in the heart and mind. Christians should stay away from these.
4) Do not repeat slanders: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” ()The story about anonymous speeches and letters in the introduction fits into this category: spreading slanders without taking responsibility. Too many people were hurt seriously in this kind of vicious use of words. If we don’t know all the facts, we better stop repeating what others had told us.
1) It isn’t a commercial: In a TV commercial for selling language CDs, the slogan is “You are what you speak.” In real life, it is very true that people rank you according to your speech and use of words, not just about your education but also about character. As Christians, we ought to be more careful in our speech and words not because we want to gain respect but we are lights of the world. We are to represent Christ and the best of His glory.
2) It’s a double-edged sword: It is almost impossible to live a life without the use of words and speech. Rightly chosen of words and appropriate motive and attitude go a long way to promote goodness and harmony just as bad and filthy words destroy character and dignity of a person. Too often, families, marriages and even churches were destroyed because of careless or vicious used of words.
3) We are just being human: Being human is being vulnerable of using wrong words and making bad speeches. This is part of human nature. Only God can help us to curb that defective and live a life that is beneficial to all parties. Seek God’s guidelines in His words, the Bible, and put down your feet to follow.