July 28, 2019
One of the joys of parenthood, in my opinion, is reading good books to your kids. I love to wind down a day with a good read-aloud and the kids spread out on the floor at my feet.
- One of the books we recently finished was Prince Caspian, the 4th book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by C.S. Lewis. In the book, young Caspian is living under the tyrannical rule of his Uncle Miraz who has killed his Father (Caspian doesn’t know this yet) and Miraz has set himself up as King over Caspian’s homeland. Miraz is only keeping Caspian around because he has no heir to his stolen throne—but when Miraz discovers he’s having a son, Caspian’s life is immediately endangered. After being smuggled away from the castle by a kindly tutor, he discovers the truth about his true identity, what happened to his father, and that his destiny lay in reclaiming his rightful throne.
- As he processes these things, something fascinating starts to happen: As he learns the truth about his identity, he becomes an entirely different person. He begins to live differently. Think diff, choose diff.—even speak differently! His speech becomes less little-boy like and he begins to speak with the confidence/aire of a King. He is fundamentally changed and reshaped when he discovers his new Identity. That leads him to live differently.
- I believe the Scriptures teach that in discovering who we are in Christ—as new creations—we have the ability/power to change. And I believe that Spirit-empowered ability to change and live diff. extends all the way to that little 3×5 mucus membrane hiding behind your teeth!
- So, as we face a difficult topic (words), one that will no doubt convict us of our sin in this area, my prayer is that CONVICTION/HOPE would beautifully co-mingle in our hearts/minds so that we’re rightly challenged by our sinful patterns of speech, but we remember that we have everything we need to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.
As you read through the Proverbs, we find all kinds of topics addressed. But one constant throughout the book is the massive amount of attention given to our WORDS. By my rough count, 184 out of 600ish proverbs deal with words. Over 30% of the book is devoted to how we talk….
- Philip Brooks—We know metal/coins by their tinkling and men by their talking.
- Jesus said it is by our words that we are condemned and by our words we are justified; CLEARLY, how we talk matters.
- Do I have your attention yet? This is a heavy subject isn’t it? We would be crushed under the weight of it, if we didn’t have the hope of the Gospel that brings forgiveness/healing.
- So we’re gonna next take 2 Sundays to see what Proverbs says about the power of our words. (Today) Words that hurt. (Next week) Words that help.
- I’ve grouped these words that hurt into 6 little sub-categories…
Slanderous words. 11:13, whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered; 17:9, whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends. 18:8, tells us the words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. 20:19, warns us not associate with a gossip.
- The word for a gossip has the idea of a “merchant” who goes around peddling his goods on the street. The street merchant’s motivation is personal gain; he goes around peddling his goods to make a profit.
- Think about this in terms of our motivation for slandering/gossiping. When we go around peddling gossip, what’s our motivation? Usually, its because we want to be “in the know,” to have the upper hand, a lot of times it’s a power play, isn’t it? Sometimes we peddle slanderous words because of jealousy/envy—maybe we want to sling mud on the other person applying for the same job we are, so we can get the job? But the Scripture strongly warns against allowing this kind of talk a place in our lives. 17:9 says it spoils/separates friendships. We’ve all seen the wreckage caused by slander/gossip.
- Eph. 4 strongly exhorts us to put off the old self and put on the new self, created in righteousness/holiness. Paul says let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but only what is GOOD for building up/fitting the occasion/giving grace to those who hear. GOSSIP NEVER GIVES GRACE.
- One of the puritans said, “This unguarded use of the tongue is the chariot in which the devil rides. Ask yourself—Do I want to escort the enemy to his next demolition project? Then you’ve gotta give no foothold to the devil and run from gossip/slander like your hair’s one fire!
Argumentative—Ever been around someone who just LOVES to argue? Every sentence begins with, “Well actually that’s not exactly right…” OR you find them in the heat of every debate that’s raging on social media? Argumentative people love to stir up strife and drive home their point until they win!
- I was talking with a couple recently that I’m doing pre-martial counseling with and we were talking through this issue of arguing. And I told them, “When you are dead set on being the winner in an argument with your spouse, you are dead set on making them the loser. And you don’t want them to be a loser—nobody wants to be married to a loser.”
- 26:21, As charcoal is to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife. 17:14, the beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out. We need to learn when to quit, to stop putting more wood on the fire. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Means I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to!
- James tells us the wisdom from above is first pure, peaceable, gentle, and open to reason… None of those are synonyms for argumentativeness
Harsh/Angry—15:1, a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
- I remember when I was a little boy at daycare, we had this one lady that yelled ALL THE TIME. And the way she would holler, it just made us all angry. But the Director of the daycare (later became a pastor) talked to us so differently. He spoke gently/calmly/warmly. And if we got in trouble and we were all wound up, his soft responses deflected/defused our anger instead of igniting it.
- Just because the answer is soft, doesn’t mean its weak. 25:15, a soft tongue is powerful enough can break a bone! Amy Carmichael—when faced with tough situation that required the help of the Spirit would whisper a little prayer, “Your gentleness, O Lord.” How many potential blow-ups could we avoid if we whispered that little prayer in the middle of combustible moment
- Notice it doesn’t say, ‘Many harsh words’ but rather A harsh word. This verse is intentionally singular in the Hebrew text; the point is clear—one harsh word can ignite a firestorm of wrath/anger. Your gentleness, O Lord…
Reckless/Babbling (when we talk too much). 10:8, a babbling fool will come to ruin; 18:2, a fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion, 29:20, Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
- When does your mouth get you in the most trouble? Most of the time, its when you talk too much, right? We’ve all heard the saying that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth is so that we’d listen twice as much as we ________ (talk). Some of our trouble comes because we don’t know when to stop talking…
- 18:6, a fool’s lips walk into a fight and his mouth invites a beating, When I was HS, I literally saw this happen. This one guy kept verbally taunting this other student who was learning disabled and a lot larger than him. The bully-kid was super cool, real popular. One day, this bigger kid who was getting picked on, had enough, and caught him outside when everybody else was in class, and he beat him mercilessly til he was unconscious. I happened to be out of class for some reason and saw it happen… his lips literally invited a beating!
- 12:18, Our rash words are like sword thrusts! Nobody gives a butcher knife to a 3 year old, right? Why? He’d start swinging that thing wildly and wound everybody in sight. That’s what reckless words do, they wound.
- 18:13, if you give an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
- A good rule of thumb here: (Covey)—Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Deceitful – 12:19, Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment, 12:22, Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, 14:25, a truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.
- It calls lying lips an abomination to God! What’s that mean? An abomination is anything that God hates because it is offensive to Him and His character. In the NT, Satan the father of lies; in Revelation 21 specifically says that the portion of all liars will be the lake that burns with sulfur and fire! Why does God hate lying so badly?
- Because God is a God of Truth/Righteousness; and His Word is Truth. And nothing else we do causes us to more closely resemble the Devil than lies/deceit. If it is the Truth that sets a man free from bondage to sin, then it it is lies/deceit that make him a slave.
- Also should mention that deceitful speech is much more than just lying! Deception can be embellishing/exaggerating the truth—telling half-truths—leaving out certain details to shade/slant things a bit—any kind of speech to cover, conceal, or redirect people away from the Truth (think Gen. 3—Serpent
Not only do hurtful words hurt others, they hurt us! Proverbs says they Ensnare us… 12:13, An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of HIS lips… 18:7, a fool’s mouth is HIS ruin, and HIS lips are a snare to HIS soul; 21:23, whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps HIMSELF out of trouble.
- Words have a boomerang effect sometimes, don’t they? I grew up hearing this little jingle—“be careful of the words you say, make them soft and sweet, for you never know from day to day, which words you’ll have to eat.”
- The Bible says that our lips are snares to our own souls. Look closely—it doesn’t say our lips ensnare our bodies! That’s an entirely diff. Hebrew word; it says our SOULS are ensnared by how we talk. How is that possible?
Matt. 15:18—What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. What comes out of here (mouth) originated down in here (heart).
- Wiersbe —The key issue in our speech is the condition of our heart. If there is war/strife/sin in our hearts, our words will be destructive missiles instead of healing medicines.
- So when your tongue tells the story of what’s going on in your heart, what does it say?
**Heard about a lady who went to her pastor, felt guilty about spreading a malicious rumor around town and feels badly about it. She goes to him and asks for help. He says I want you to get a big bag of chicken feathers and go around place them on every doorstep in the community. So she did. And she returned and said, I did it. And he said, I want you to go back down the same pathways and gather up all the feathers and put them back in the bag. Oh, says the lady, the wind has been blowing since I put them out—they’re everywhere! That’s right, says the pastor, and so are your words… You can be forgiven but you can’t get them back.
- The thing about hurtful words is we can never get ‘em back, can we? But the good news—YOU CAN BE FORGIVEN and you can be cleansed and you can put away your old patterns of speech by the help of the Spirit.
- 1 John 1:9—If we CONFESS our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness. // That means if we agree with God that our actions/speech have been sinful and offensive to Him, He’ll fully forgive and make you clean again…
- John 8—Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more…”. He instructs her to leave her sinful ways behind—to REPENT! I would be totally remiss if I were to preach a sermon on the use of our words but I failed to call you to repent for your sins in this area. Same for me.
- Thomas à Kempis—Spit out the poison with all speed and hasten to take the remedy, and thou shalt feel thyself better than if thou didst long defer it.