Talk about Talk

Let’s talk about the way you talk.

You do a lot of talking. That ability to communicate is a gift.  But this ability to communicate is not only a gift, it is also a responsibility. In fact our ability to communicate with one another is such an important responsibility that God says He will use the way in which we speak to others as a way of evaluating us on judgment day. 

In other words, the way you talk reveals what you actually believe about Jesus. It is the easiest thing in the world to come to church and say, Jesus is Lord.  But what does Lord mean?  It means master.  And how do we know that you really believe Jesus is Lord?  Look at the way you speak. Whether we really believe Jesus is Lord is revealed by whether we speak like He is Lord throughout the week.  There is a connection between what you believe and how you speak. 

That in fact is the connection Paul makes Ephesians 4:29 and 30.  In chapters 1 through 3 of Ephesians, he’s told us that we are saved by the grace of God and for the glory of God.  But how do you know whether you believe you have been saved by the grace of God and for the glory of God?  How do you know whether you believe you are here for yourself or you are here for God?  The fact that you have been saved by the grace of God and that you have been saved for the glory of God has to impact the way you communicate.

Now take a moment, get out your Bible, and read these two verses. 

How exactly does Paul say the gospel is supposed to impact the way you communicate?  

What does it say?

Here are three questions based on this passage to help you evaluate the way you talk.

1.) Is the way you speak harmful?

Paul says it like this, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.”   

The person who has been transformed by the grace of Christ should have a serious concern about the effect his words have on the people around him and as a result he should be very careful not to let any harmful, decaying rotten words to come out of his mouth.  We must evaluate our words because our words can have a devastating impact on others.  

If you ever want any proof of the power our words can have on the people around us, you might just work your way through Proverbs.  Proverbs explains, your words can literally ruin someone else’s life.  Your words can destroy someone who is close to you. The writer of Proverbs talks about words being able to overthrow an entire city. He talks about the way we communicate entrapping a person. He speaks about words being sword thrusts.  He speaks of our words having the ability to make God angry. He talks about speech stirring up anger. He talks about words breaking another person’s spirit. He talks about words inviting a beating. He talks about words making it difficult for someone else to understand the truth. The way in which you speak can change others for the worse. He talks about our words being like a pit. He talks about words being able to make life for others unbearably uncomfortable.   He says words can produce tension, conflict, your words they can corrupt.   And as a result, if we are people who are wise, we are people who should evaluate the way in which we speak to others.  Practically, you would have to be a fool not to pay attention to the way you speak.   But even more important as believers, as people who have been shown grace, it would be wicked for us not to evaluate our words.  Because of the power of words, because of the importance of the way we speak, it is vital we as parents think about putting off corrupting speech.  

The place to start obviously is to identify corrupting speech.  It is hard for us to put off unwholesome speech if we don’t know what unwholesome speech looks like.  How can you stop doing something that you don’t know?

One way to identify corrupting speech is very specific.  You have to get specific about what unwholesome words look like.  Another way to identify corrupting speech is not so specific, and that is to think about what is at the root of unwholesome words.  

There are three wrong attitudes that are at the core of corrupting speech and you can evaluate your talk by looking at whether or not it comes from one of these three places, and if it comes from one of these three places, you can be sure it is going to be the kind of speech that corrupts others. 

– Is it speech that is motivated by pride?   

– Is my speech motivated by selfishness?   

– Is my speech motivated by unbelief?

If we are going to put off corrupting speech we need the Holy Spirit to deal with these heart attitudes of pride, selfishness and unbelief.  Really what you need to do is take what you have learned from the gospel and apply it to your speech.  What we believe has to show up in the way we speak, and the first question to evaluate the way you speak is to ask yourself, is the way I am speaking harmful?

2.) Is the way you speak helpful?

Paul is not content with us just not saying the wrong thing, he wants you put on the right kind of speech. When it comes to talk, what are we to put on? Paul says, “only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it might give grace to those who hear.” 

The main phrase there is building up and that word means to edify. To say it another way the kind of words you need to put off are harmful words and the kind of words you need to put on are the words that make people stronger. Our speech is to be used by God to produce spiritual growth and spiritual strength in others.  Why do you have words, why has God given you the ability to communicate? The answer to that question is to serve others for the glory of God.  You have been given words to make Jesus look great through service to others. 

“We are called to speak for the king,” one man writes, “God has put us just where He wants us in order to make His appeal through us.  God calls each of us to live and speak as His ambassadors. We are on the job twenty four hours a day.  Everything we do or say reflects an awareness of the one we represent.  God has called us to be part of something much bigger than just getting what we want. We use His words to accomplish His will which is the building up of His body and the salvation of unbelievers.”

That it is an incredible privilege.  That God has given such power to our words, that we can actually build other people up.  No matter who you are God has given you something that you can use to make a tremendous impact for the kingdom and that is the way you communicate, the way you speak.  If you need proof of that, again you can go to the book of Proverbs and listen to some of the things Proverbs says your speech can do. 

Proverbs says your speech can be a fountain of life.  Your words can produce strength in others.   Your words can rescue others, can deliver you from trouble, can bring satisfaction to others, can make a permanent impact on others, can make others happy, can save a life, can turn away wrath, can bring delight to those in authority over you, can heal deep wounds, can refresh tired souls, can change people.

If you need proof of the power of words, think about your own salvation and your own sanctification.  How were you saved, most likely through someone communicating the gospel with you?  God uses words to make dead men live.  

And how are you being changed day by day?  God uses as one of His primary means, people speaking His words. Words have power and with this kind of power, you have to be thinking how do I use this tool?  There are three things you need to think about to make sure your words are helpful.  

– Think about what you are saying.    

– Think about who you are speaking to.  

– Think about why you are speaking.   

Third , is the way I am speaking honoring?

In verse 30, Paul adds a motivation to what he says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  Paul is giving us a very God-centered motivation for paying attention to the way we speak.  You have been saved by God and for God and how does that impact the way you speak, it means you need to always be thinking about everything in terms of your relationship with God, even down to the way you talk.  How does the way I am talking impact my relationship with God right now?

The world is always thinking about speech in terms of self.  How is it going to impact me?  How is it going to make my life better?  How is it going to make my life worse? Paul on the other hand is always thinking about all of life in terms of God and the most important reason this kind of speech needs to be put off is because this kind of speech grieves the Spirit of God by whom we have been sealed for the day of redemption. And why does that matter to us? Because God matters to us.   We have been saved by God and for God, and so our words matter, because we know our words can grieve Him.   

Paul Tripp has said, “Words are powerful; words are important; words are significant. It’s the way that it was meant to be. When we speak, it must be with the realization that God has given our words  significance. It was God who ordained the words that we speak. It was God who ordained this ability. It was God who gave it to us. And so, God ordained, determined, decided that our words would be important. Words were significant at creation; words were significant at the fall; words are significant to redemption. Here’s the bottom line: Your words have value.”

Our words can build up, our words can tear down, and our words can grieve God. We have been saved by the grace of God for the glory of God and we have a tool given to us by God to accomplish His glory and that is our words.

What is our plan for our words to reflect what we believe on our team  Well Paul tells us, first of all put off prideful, selfish, unbelieving words.  Second put on serving, helpful, necessary, thoughtful words.  And third of all do it because what matters to you more than anything else is the glory of God and what you want most is what God wants most.

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