“WISDOM OF LIVING (43) USE OF WORDS”       By Pastor Yau                                           

Text: Colossians 4:2-6                                                  February 12, 2006   

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A true story: From the day of youth, Larry Crabb had developed a stutter that had humiliated him in school and at church. Once he was praying at a church meeting and his stutter caused him to get both his words and theology all mixed up. Expecting ridicule and correction, he slipped out of the church, resolving that he will never speak in public again. One elderly man came up to him and said, ”Larry, there is one thing I want you to know. Whatever you will do for the Lord, I am behind you 1,000 percent.” Larry eventually became a great preacher and was chosen to lead the Department of Evangelism of a Baptist state convention.

2)   A good lesson: When Paul encouraged the Colossian Christians to season their speech with “grace”, he understood the importance of the words we use and the effect they may have on others. While there are many ways to demonstrate the quality of a Christian life, the words we used, either spoken or written, give the most direct expression of our life on the inside. When Jesus told the Pharisees that “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart,” (Matt. 12:34) He gave an important spiritual principle: Speech reflects the kind of person one is.

 

THE GIFT OF WORDS:

1)   It’s a gift of God: Even though the Bible didn’t give us an account on when and how words, or language as combination of words, came into place when language was used as means of communication between God and man and men to men, it does give us an account when and how many languages came to exist. (Gen. 11) No one can measure the contribution of language in everyday life as well as in development of civilization. Most anthropologists and sociologists credit language as the measure of civilization and development. It would be very difficult, if not impossible, to communicate ideas, record thoughts and history with out the use of words or language.

2)   The good use of words: Besides our daily experience in the good use of words, the Bible lists many wholesome ways words could be used: to confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), confess sins for forgiveness (1 John 1:9), building up others (Eph. 4:29), praise God (Heb. 13:15), communicate wisdom and kindness (Prov. 31:26), show love and gentleness (Prov. 15:1), pray to God (John 17), give instruction (Matt. 5:2) and demonstrate grace (Luke 4:22) and truth (1 Peter 2:22). Words properly and wisely used may achieve a lot of good for the speakers and the listeners.

3)   The bad use of words: All of us are both guilty of and victims of bad words spoken from mouths that are unclean. Words may be used to express evil (Pro. 15:28), immorality (Pro. 5:3), deceit (Jer. 9:8), curse (Ps. 10:7), oppression (Ps. 10:7), lies (Pro. 12:22), destruction (Pro. 11:11), vanity (2 Peter 2:18), flattery (Pro. 26:28), foolishness (Pro. 15:2), anger (Eccl. 10:12-13), boasting (Rom. 1:30), gossip (Pro. 26:22) and hatred (Ps. 109:3), just to list a few. All of us are guilty of using words in the wrong way and are also victims of slanderous and evil words hurled to us by others.

4)   Words are dangerous weapons: (James 3:1-12) The Book of Proverbs contains so much on the wise use of words while James 3 stresses the destructive power of words used the wrong way. James recognizes the difficulty in controlling the use of words or the tongue. While many wise Christians use words the right way in witnessing, instruction, encouragement and glorifying God, more Christians have lost their power and value of being the light of the world because of poor or wrongful use of words. Most people may not be able to judge our thoughts, attitudes or motives because they are hidden on the inside. But all are able to judge us by the words we use and the way we use them.

 

WORDS OF GRACE AND SALT: (Col. 4:6)

1)    Words of grace: Paul was not talking about presenting the gospel of grace but in everyday conversation there must be full of grace. When Christians talk to people, be it their spouse, children, coworkers, friends, neighbors, people at work or in school or at church, in casual conversation or in committee meetings, whether you are in good mood or bad mood, happy or stressful, under difficulty or injustice, words we use and the way we present them must be with grace. To speak with grace means to say what is wholesome, spiritual, complementary, kind, sensitive, purposeful, encouraging, gentle, loving, truthful and thoughtful. It is not whether the listeners deserve your grace it is you must be a man of grace when you speak so you act like a Christian.

2)    Words of salt: The speech of a Christian must be seasoned with salt. As food seasoned with proper amount of salt, it brings out the real good taste, words of a Christian, if properly seasoned, will bring out the flavor or fragrance of the Christian character. With all the means of demonstrating our Christian character, words we use and the way we use them bring out the REAL thing on our inside. Words Christians use must also be effective in preventing corruption or destruction of the listeners. Our speech should also have the purifying influence to the listeners when this world is full of filthy words and speeches.

3)    Words to each man: There are two different words in Greek used for “each” or “all” even though oftentimes they are translated interchangeably. Here it is “each” ekastow, not “all” pas. The reason of using “each” in our response or speech to people is to stress the importance of understanding and knowing the unique needs and situation of that particular person. Just as good doctors pay special attention to each patient according to his specific needs, Christians also need to be mindful of each person we talk to. This doesn’t mean we say things on purpose to please people, but it does mean that we need to be sensitive to the specific needs and the well being of each person. We should not say things we “want” to say. We should say things to meet their needs.

4)    There is a difference: How do we know if a Christian is mature or immature? The easiest way to tell is what comes out of his mouth. Unlike the ungodly and the fools who say “Our lips are our own; who is lord over us?” (Psalm 12:4), we as believers should echo the prayer of the psalmist in Ps. 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

 

REASONS OF CONTROLLING WORDS: No one could list all the good reasons of controlling words of our mouths, the following are only a few obvious ones to remind us the importance of doing it.

1)     It is the teaching of the Bible: If we claim we are Bible believing Christians, the least we can do is to follow its teachings in our daily life. We cannot just believe the Bible to be saved and ignore the Bible as our guidelines for Christian living. If we disregard the teaching on the use of proper words, we disregard God and show contempt to His words.

2)     It is how we shine in the world: Our words represent our life on the inside and it certainly affects the degree of our shining power if we use proper control on words. People can easily tell who we really are from the words we say and the way we say them.

3)     It is how we build each other up: Building each other up is not an option but a command of the Lord. “Each of us should please his neighbor for his good to build him up.” (Romans 15:2) We are here for each other and together to build up the Body of Christ, the church. (Ephesians 4:16)

4)     It is for your own good: (James 3:2) Christian perfection is a goal and a life long process. If we can learn from the Lord to be meek and gentle in our hearts, we may learn how to express ourselves in words with humility and gentleness. Showing love and kindness in our words almost certainly will receive the same from others and draw many friends to enrich our lives. People with sharp teeth and words often times suffer isolation and rejection by others.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     Good intention is not enough: Oftentimes, people say things that offend others argued that they said with good intention. A boy promised his father that he won’t say a word that may spoil a baby party kept his promise until he steppe out the door of the host. He turned back and said to the new parents: “I have promised my father not to say anything bad to spoil the party. Now I am out of your house and if the baby dies tonight, don’t blame me. OK?”

2)     Well Said and Worth Saying: This is the title of a book written for preachers but I believe it should be for everyone. We all need to say things that are worth saying and say them in a well manner. To say things that may cause hurt to others and regret to ourselves is something we need to try our best to avoid.

3)     One thing you must say: Everyone must say a confession to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his/her Savior to be saved and given eternal life. (Romans 10:9-10) confess in your heart and say it from your mouth will do you a great service for eternity. Say it now if you have never said it before. Jesus loves to hear your words and see what is in your heart.