How does our speech reflect Christ's example?

(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

Each of us say many words a day. According to one study, men and women speak about 15,000 words a day!

And of course, as Christians, we are required to have a distinctive approach to our words. For instance:

Proverbs 15:4
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

Proverbs 15:28
The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Luke 6:45
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 4:6
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Titus 2:7-8
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

James 1:26
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.

Two questions for discussion…

  1. What are your guidelines for what to say - and what not to say? How do you define and contrast speech that is pure, good, and honors Christ - vs speech that is impure, wrong, and dishonoring to Christ? How would you distinguish between words that served others - vs words that served yourself?

  2. What practices have you adopted to refine your heart, your fundamental attitudes, so that what comes out of your heart in speech is humble, gracious, respectful, and gentle?

I welcome your insights into how we can grow into wise, mature, faithful disciples in our hearts and speech. This is certainly an essential discipline for us to consider in a text-based environment like Connect!

(Jennifer Judson) #2

I grew up with a Dad that did a lot of cursing when he was angry. Because of the ugliness we saw in that, we children never used much foul language. But that doesn’t mean that speech still can’t be hurtful and ugly even when it’s not foul language. I think with age and experience my language has become more thoughtful (meaning I think about it first) and more uplifting. I choose to encourage those around me–not with empty or shallow compliments, but sincere observations of what it good about a person.

I confess the exception still seems to be when I’m driving. Not that I use bad language, but it’s still fly off the tongue utterances like “come on”, “any day now”, “jerk”. Traffic does seem to bring out the worst in us, though I admit I do not have much excuse since I’m blessed to have a 9 minute commute.

Thanks for reminding us of this key attribute to a Christlike life.

(SeanO) #3

@CarsonWeitnauer What a great observation.

I have taught NUT as a helpful acronym in the past - taming the tongue in a NUTshell. NUT stands for:

  1. Necesssary
  2. Uplifting
  3. True

Is it Necessary? Is it Uplifting? Is it True?

But honestly - when I am in the midst of conversation or, like @Jennifer_Judson, something unexpected happens when driving, it takes much practice to apply these filters. In those situations, I have found the best response is just to default to praying for the situation or people immediately and that can help me be in the right mindset to mitigate the response.

@Jennifer_Judson 9 minutes is a great commute!

Since James has an entire chapter addressing this topic, I felt it would be helpful to share that as well. It is a very powerful statement that if we can control our tongue than we can control our whole body. Add that to what Jesus said - that from the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks - and we have a very serious reason to connect what we say to holiness and purity of heart.

Let us strive to tame our tongue (and our keyboards) through the power of Christ’s Spirit!

James Chapter 3

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

(Lindsay Brandt) #4

Hi, Sean. I have seen NUT before. I do get annoyed, though, sometimes when people use the “uplifting” part to thwart necessary correction. Correction should always be winsome, but even some of Paul’s instruction on correction could not be categorized as “uplifting.” I was mentoring a young girl a little while back, and she kept telling us she would do things and then just not show up and would not even call or text to let us to cancel. It was a habit, and so I had to address it, as she was living with us, and it was causing issues in the household. I explained that we need to honor our commitments out of reverence for the Lord and that if she absolutely had to cancel for some reason, it is respectful and considerate to let people know. She told me I was judging her and had a bad perspective of her and that I was not being uplifting. I responded further, and she ended up coming back and apologizing, but I wanted to hear your thoughts on this. I know this isn’t exactly in the same category as poor use of words (jerk, idiot, etc), but I think it is important for Christians to know how to approach and word corrections when it is absolutely necessary.

(SeanO) #5

@psalm151ls I agree that correction is certainly necessary, but I think people, including myself, generally need to be reminded not to be critical of others more than they need to be reminded to correct others.

Another phrase that you may like more is from Paul’s letters - we should “build up rather than tear down”.

So a question that may work better than NUT if uplifting seems misleading is - “Does what I am going to say build others up in the truth?” Or “Am I building this person up or tearing them down?” We always want to build them up in truth.

In this passage from 2 Corinthians, Paul is addressing those who are questioning his authority and he defends his calling from God by saying he has been given authority to “build up” rather than “tear down”.

Do you feel that is more accurate terminology?

2 Cor 10:8-11 - " So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present."

(Lindsay Brandt) #6

Hi, Sean. Thank you for the response. Yes, I think “building up” is better, and I do agree that people need to be “reminded not to be critical of others more than they need to be reminded to correct others.” I think sometimes Christians try to be so encouraging and uplifting that they are willing to put a positive slant on wrongdoing, sin, and it does more harm than good and turns the faith into a mere practice of cheer leading, which is never what it was meant to be. I think in regard to our words, “building up in the truth” really needs to perhaps be given clearer teaching in churches today. I think understanding what that means connects with Carson’s first question for discussion. We don’t want to condemn, yet at the same time we want our words to be truthful so that they do not undercut a person made in the image of God and yet honor and promote God’s truth.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #7

This is a timely reminder @CarsonWeitnauer. I confess that I fail on this at times, and am striving to be better each day. Nevertheless, I would like to share insights on what has helped me in my walk, which I have used primarily to my family, aside from other people who comes my way.

  1. In terms of guidelines, scripture should always be our guide. The verses you provided are good guidelines. What I primarily remind myself is James 1:19. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” This helps me in a sense that I’m reminded that I should not respond when I think I’m angry and have not thought about it. So it became my habit to listen carefully and get to know the facts first before I react or make a judgement. I fail at this sometimes when I bypass getting to know facts by making educated assumptions, but as much as possible I get to know the facts first, since this will help me formulate an answer that is consistent with the Christian worldview.

Another thing that is helpful for me is a quote from Ravi Zacharias, “Yes, if truth is not undergirded by love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.” This truth helps me think of how I sound when I answer to be sure that I’ll be heard. Being familiar with human nature and psychology, I’m sure that a person will not hear you, or will become defensive if you have proven them wrong in a degrading way. For sure, they will preserve themselves instead of admitting error. My experience in customer service before has helped me in this area. My previous company had trained me to reply emphatically. When someone (a customer) has a question and is frustrated for example, I acknowledge first their frustration and empathize before giving my answer for them to be sure that I’m listening to their feelings and am serious in helping them.

So yes, all these for me is pure, good and honors Christ. What would serve others is whatever that would build them up and edify them. It serves me only I guess when my speech tries to vindicate my ego.

  1. What really helped me is listening. I do my best to make sure I let the other person verbalize whatever their thoughts are. Even if I feel that I’m more expert than the other person even on their own worldview, I let them verbalize their take. Another is the theological revelation of human nature and that each people have intrinsic worth. Meditating on the gospel to remind myself of God’s grace on my life, so that I won’t feel superior to the other person helped me immensely as well. :slight_smile:

(SeanO) #8

@psalm151ls Amen!