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Godly Communication

by David Johnson

David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

DavidJohnsonLet us now break the Word of God as we seek to know more about him and what he has for each one of us.

Let’s bow in a word of prayer.  Father, we just thank you for your Word that you have revealed to us. May we make it real. May we make it applicable to each and every one of us individually and corporately as your people in Jesus’ name. Amen.

It has been determined that one of the most important needs of all relationships of all kinds is simply communication, proper and appropriate connecting with one another. You understand that in the big picture we have made, as a society on earth, we have made extraordinary leaps in technological communication.  Do you realize that we can now communicate even 30,000 feet down into the ocean depths? We can now communicate, it is estimated, even 10,000 miles up into outer space. We can now connect with people in more than 250 nations and territories across this planet.  But sometimes we struggle to talk to one another across the kitchen table.

Today with technology, our voices can be chopped up, converted to digital pulses for computers, to digest and to squeeze through the routings of tens of hundreds of thousands of other voice signals through the process of pulse code modulation.  Yet sometimes ordinary face to face communication, conversation often breaks down with miscommunication, even non communication.  We simply sometimes do not compute.

We have the technology today to communicate voices around the globe. It is estimated in just 70 seconds.  And yet I have heard of people—and you have, undoubtedly also—that haven’t spoken to family, to friends in years, in decades, a complete disconnect. Technology can send voice across the earth and yet because of hard headedness often communication has trouble penetrating one quarter inch of human skull.  This should not be.

We all need to be better communicators and better listeners.  For example, the lack of communication is considered to be in the top three problems that plague many of our marriages or relationships of all kinds.  God has revealed and communicated a lot to us through Scripture regarding proper, appropriate communication, proper talk, speaking, connecting with one another.

In Ephesians chapter four verses 29 through 32.  Let’s look at it more closely. In verse 29 on the negative side of Ephesians chapter four, ungodly talk, that is communication, conversation that is against God’s will, that is ungodly, is any unwholesome talk.  Now this can include a lot of things, unwholesome talk, words that are hurtful, words that are harmful. In fact, the original Greek word for our English word unwholesome, refers to that which is foul, rotten, like spoiled fruit or rotten meat.  Foul language, of course, would fall into this category and swearing and cursing and belittling and slighting and running down and putting down and cutting down and all their cousins, which all are not proper for God’s people. We need to be wholesome as we communicate, as we converse, as we connect with one another.  And to be unwholesome is to be totally out of character for believers, for Christians, for new creatures in Christ Jesus.

In Colossians chapter three and verse eight in a parallel passage to Ephesians four there are some other details. It says in part that we are to rid ourselves of anger, of rage, or malice and of slander, when we verbally abuse one another and with filthy language.   Perhaps filthy language is not a problem for us. But we can still run people down, cut people down with our words.

Now how serious is this? In James chapter three and verse six it tells us there that the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person.  It sets the whole course of his life or her life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell. That sounds pretty serious to me.  And all sin is serious.

So what can we do about it?  What can we do about the unwholesome talk or the miscommunication or the non communication that we have with people, with others, family, friends, on the job, at work, at school, wherever we may find ourselves.  We miscommunicate, non communicate. We don’t connect with one another.  What are we to do? Well, a good answer to get started with is certainly to pray, to petition the Lord for his help.

For example, look in Psalm 141 and verse three. It says there that part of our prayer life, part of our petitions, one of our supplications can be to set a guard. We pray to the Lord and we ask him to set a guard over my mouth, Lord, over my mouth, oh Lord.  Keep watch over the door of my lips.

 

Now God is going to do his part, when we ask him to help us not only to open up to one another, to speak the truth to one another, but to be wholesome and unwholesome, to build each other up, not cut each other down.  And God will do his part.  And if we do our part and first ask him to help us, don’t you think that is going to be part of God’s will?  We don’t have to pray, “Lord, is this your will that I can hold my tongue, curb my tongue, clean up my tongue?” That is always God’s will.  But we need to do our part and try to be more wholesome and more uplifting with one another.

In Ephesians chapter four and verse 29 we have the positive side, it says, “But only what is helpful,” to speak only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. Now you understand the strong implication there, in order to be able to build others up according to their needs means that we also need to be very good listeners. You know, it has often been said. It has kind of become cliché, but God didn’t give us two mouths and one ear. He gave us two ears and one mouth to double our listening versus our talking, to be helpful and not hurtful, to speak, to edify, to encourage.  Certainly as Christians this should be something that should be paramount in our minds. And then with our tongues to communicate, to comfort, to complement and to do it more consistently.  And if we would practice Ephesians chapter four and verse 29 more consistently and more conscientiously, our marriages would be healthier, our children would be more honoring, our church would be closer, our friendships would be deeper because it is about transformed talk.

When we have been created a new creature in Christ Jesus, that includes the way we think, the way we talk, the way we act.  And having transformed talk is important.  You have heard it said, “Think before you act.” Well, even more so should we think twice before we speak. I remember many years ago when I first started preaching one of my fears was getting in front of people, doing it live, and speaking and getting away from my notes and saying something that just kind of comes out, the slip of a tongue, inappropriately.  Sometimes you might even mispronounce a word by accident and you can misspeak or worse. It might even sound like foul language when you didn’t mean that at all.

In Ephesians chapter four and verse 30 it actually says in the context of conversation, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” Do you realize that we can actually grieve, we can offend, we can hurt, we can sting, we can sadden the very spirit of God by unwholesome talk.”  Whatever it is that is unwholesome, that is cutting down, breaking down, knocking down.  Notice, first of all, that the Holy Spirit is not an influence. It is not an it. The Holy Spirit is a person. He is a divine person, but he is a person—can be grieved.  The Holy Spirit is a person.  And the Holy Spirit has emotions. He can be grieved. The Holy Spirit of God, he is just as much God as the God the Father and God the Son.  And not only is God the Holy Spirit a person and not only is God the Holy Spirit a person that has emotions, but also he can be affected by our behavior.  Think about that for a moment, that we can affect, so to speak, the heart of God that he can even be grieved by our behavior.

And so instead of grieving we should allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. And that includes not just our hearts, not just our minds, but our tongues.  We can speak. We can talk, we can communicate, certainly in a wholesome way, in an uplifting way with the help of the Holy Spirit consistently. You should know that God never ever expects us to do anything that he doesn’t equip us to do, that the doesn’t give us the power to do. He has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us to be more careful with what we say and to do it more consistently. We are not perfect and sometimes we do have the slip of the tongue.

But with God all things are possible and it is always his will that we strive to communicate more properly and more appropriately and in a more wholesome and uplifting way, building up others and we can tame our tongues with the help of the Holy Spirit. And so when Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit which means controlled by the Holy Spirit, it does not mean that we speak in tongues. It means that we learn to hold our one tongue.

In Ephesians chapter four and verse 31 it details examples of what we must hold off of our tongues. For it is everything from bitterness to malice and everything in between. Instead of lashing out we need to leave it to the Lord. Instead of blasting off we need to back off. Sometimes we just need to zip it.

In verse 32 of Ephesians four we have the positive side of the tongue. From kindness to forgiveness.  Sometimes it is better to be tongue tied. Then we won’t have to take back our words quite as often, because of something ugly or hateful that we have said. You and I won’t have to apologize as often if we are more careful with what we say.  And we won’t have so much red face, sudden high blood pressure, chest pains and the rest of it when we get so worked up with our words.

 

You and I can communicate more with God which is what we call prayer. We can let God communicate more with us, which is what we call Scripture. And we can all have better communication and open the channels of wholesome conversation with one another whether at home, on the job, in the church house, or wherever it might be. We should be able to communicate across our table better than we communicate by satellites out into space and especially if we let the Spirit of God help us with that connecting to one another.

Someone has written that a kind word is the oil that takes the friction out of life.  Also we can help stamp out pollution by trying to clean up our speech which includes grumbling, complaining and criticizing and being a non starter. Gentle words can fall lightly, but they can have great weight. A word of encouragement can make the difference between giving up and going on.

According to the gospel of Luke, chapter 23 and verse 39, there is the scene where one of the criminals, one of the malefactors, one of the evil doers who hung there to the side of the Savior in the middle, he hurled insults at him the Scripture tells us. He hurled insults at Jesus even as he was dying.  And yet Christ on the cross said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” When we are tempted to hurl insults, let’s instead be more like Christ and less like that criminal.  Learn to forgive and not to grieve even the Spirit of God which is what we do with unwholesome talk.

You know, you and I can be very, very thankful that we live in a country like America.  You and I can be even more thankful that we are Christians in the kingdom of God. But maybe you haven’t thought of the fact that we can be thankful and sometimes take for granted how much and how many indifferent and diverse ways that God communicates to us human beings, Christian or non Christian, believer or non believer. How God has communicated down through the millennia from Adam forward to today. God has communicated, first of all, for example, through his creation, a creation that has great design and order and wonder that we can perceive through our five senses, that every creature, every human being can discern that behind this great design of creation God is shouting, communicating: There is a great designer behind the design of creation, because the creation requires a Creator with the order and the design that we have.  And that is for all human creatures, human beings. He communicates to us not only through creation, but through conviction through our conscience. Whether we are a Christian or a non Christian, God speaks.  He communicates to us through our consciences, whether right, something is right, something is wrong. There is something there that is communicated. God is communicating, convicting through the Holy Spirit, both the unregenerate and the regenerate, the unbeliever and the believer alike.  Even after we have become Christians we may sin, but we are saved by grace through faith, through obedient faith.

So we have God communicating through creation.  We have God communicating through our consciences and that refers to everybody and then God’s greatest communication that we can be ever so thankful for is that God has made his greatest revelation Jesus Christ himself.  And even today Atheists believe, most Atheists, at least a good number of them believe that there was a man that walked on this earth according to even secular history and Roman records and so forth, that there was a man by the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

They may not believe that he is the Son of God, but there was a man and God, for those of us who are believers, has given us the greatest revelation, communicated the greatest things of God through the person of Jesus Christ and God still continues to communicate to us through the 66 books of the library of his Word. And he communicates to us through the Holy Spirit working in us and through us and convicting even the unbeliever and God still speaks to us through other people, through other Christians. And God speaks through us, communicates through us as his ambassadors all the ways that we can be so thankful of the greatest communicator, the great communicator, our great God, especially in Christ Jesus.

Have you received that communication? Surely you have.  From the creation to the conscience, to Christ, to the Scriptures, to all the ways that God continues to megaphone his will. Are you a Christian this morning? Do you need to be a better ambassador, a better communicator for Christ?  Because we should be ever so thankful for all that God has communicated to us that we can be his children by his grace through our faith in Christ Jesus.

 

David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33