At the 1993 annual meeting of The American Heart Association, 300,000 doctors, nurses, and researchers met in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the importance a low fat diet plays in keeping our hearts healthy. Yet during meal times, they consumed fat-filled fast foods such as bacon cheeseburgers and fries at about the same rate as people from other conventions. When one cardiologist was asked whether or not his partaking in high fat meals set a bad example, he replied, “Not me, because I took my name tag off.”
Seeing hypocrisy in the church has caused many people to fall away. Sadly there are some who claim to be Christians, and it’s in name only. These people often give the church a bad reputation. Many in the world look at the church and say that it runs rampant with hypocritical people.
Being a Christian means following Christ all the time. No natter the circumstances. We can’t just “take our name tag off” so to speak. People are always watching. They’re looking to us on how to act. 1 Thessalonians 2:9 reads, “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.”
Paul and the other apostles showed the Christians at Thessalonica, by example, how to act. Notice what Paul says: “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship.” The Thessalonians could look back and remember the example that the Apostles gave for them to follow. Are we like this? Or are we all talk? People will follow the examples that our actions portray.
The example that our actions set are powerful.
So the question is, “what kind of example are we setting?” We can have only two types of example–good or bad. Our example, whether good or bad, can decide the eternal fate of those that see our actions. Paul and the apostles set a great example for the church at Thessalonica.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” We see from this how Paul’s example was so good that he tells the Philippians to practice it and God would be with them. Are we confident enough to say this to another Christian? We must be careful that we show by the way we live that we truly believe what we preach to others.
In Psalm 19:14, David says, “May the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight.” Knowing that the author of scripture is God Almighty, David hopes that the words he speaks would be impacted by his knowledge of the Law. Shouldn’t we long for the same thing as Christians? We know who the author of the Bible is, we understand the way we are called to live and speak, and that should influence our words. The Bible is very clear on how we are to speak.
Our words are a direct reflection of our faith. 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.” Do you call yourself a Christian but fail to control your words? James would say we are deceiving ourselves. Our speech is directly impacted by our religion. Our faith should change our speech and make it stand out from the world.
The Bible also gives us a very sobering warning in Matthew 12:36-37. Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” On that day will we find justification or condemnation from the words we have spoken? We should use this knowledge to help guard our speech. Scripture also tells us in Luke 6:45 that, “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.” We can know the condition of our hearts by what is contained in our words.
Our tongue has a way of getting us in trouble. Ever heard the saying, “Keep your words soft and sweet because you never know when you may have to eat them”? We can do a lot of damage if we aren’t careful.
On every car there’s this handy little device called a fuel filter. A fuel filter is in between your car’s engine and the gas tank. Its job is to keep all the sediment and dirt that accumulates in the gas tank over time from getting to the engine. Basically it keeps impurities from destroying your engine. Our words need a fuel filter between the mind and the mouth. Think about what you are about to say. Is it impure or harmful in any way? Don’t say it. President Calvin Coolidge was famously known as a man of few words. His nickname was “Silent Cal.” His wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, told the story of a young woman who sat next to her husband at a dinner party. She told Coolidge she had a bet with a friend that she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, “You lose.” Coolidge understood very well the value of using only carefully considered words—and those being few in number.
We filter our words and carefully choose them because, like David, we understand who we belong to when we are Christians. God now owns our words and we use them to glorify Him in everything. God’s Word should affect our own words.
A prominent religious group is pretty well-known for their use of archaic pronouns in prayer. When asked about it, their official response is (paraphrased), “It’s more reverent and respectful,” (ldsliving.com). They believe that prayer is something that requires a special vocabulary, one that demonstrates a deeper respect for God.
We do it, too, and for the same reasons they cite. I would like to offer some points to consider:
1. Early Modern English does not demonstrate a greater level of respect. Why not use Middle English? Why not use Greek or Hebrew or Latin or Aramaic? From a purely linguistic standpoint, thee/thou/thine are not more formal in this century, and haven’t been for roughly three centuries (Yaswen, University of Toronto). Reverence comes from the heart. It is not something that can be invoked with a special vocabulary.
2. It can be detrimental to evanglism. God expects us to emulate our culture as long as it doesn’t violate his law (I Cor 9.19-27). Many non-religious people, when talking about religious things, will switch to archaic, exaggerated English to highlight the oddness of religious people. An example in mainstream culture is the show Supernatural. One of the main characters reads something with archaic wording to another main character. When asked about it, his response was, “…that’s how God talks” (S8, E19). If our goal is to reach the lost, we should try to avoid potential obstacles (that aren’t related to doctrinal issues). When we invite them to worship, hearing, “Well-pleasing in thy sight,” or, “This, thy table,” or, “We thank thee, father,” etc. may reinforce Christianity’s irrelevance/social incompatibility in their minds.
3. Biblical prayers do not teach a pattern of special language at all. Jesus’ example prayer was very simple (Matthew 6). Paul’s prayers did not differ from his conversational language (Eph 1.18; 3.14ff; Rom 1.8-10; 15.30-33; I Cor 1.4ff; II Cor 1.3ff; 9.12ff; Col 4.2ff; I Thess 3.9ff; 5.23f; II Tim 1.16ff; Philemon 4ff). No New Testament example suggests that using anything other than conversational language is superior. What does matter is our spiritual state when we pray (Jn 9.31; I Pt 3.7; I Tim 2.8).
To be very clear, this is not a salvation issue at all. This is not even an indictment those who use Early Modern English pronouns in prayer. I strongly believe that Christians who pray or direct worship using old English have pure motives and are simply doing what they think most honors God! Hopefully this will serve as encouragement to evaluate our approach to prayer and worship so we can most effectively lead people to God.
“To the Jews I became like a Jew so that I could help save them…to those who don’t practice the Law I became like someone who doesn’t practice the Law to help save them (though I am still ruled by Christ’s law). To those who are weak, I became weak so that I could help save them. I did this so that I could save people in any way possible. I do all this to make the Good News known. I do this so I can share in the blessings of the Good News” (I Cor 9.20-23).
Some people just seem to be born with great people skills. Perhaps their personality type just naturally draws others to them. While natural ability may give some a leg up, the great news is that anyone can learn to work well with others and you can develop better interpersonal skills. In fact, it’s really a biblical command!
The church is made up of all kinds of people and that being the case, we must all be in the people business. Thankfully, our Lord doesn’t leave us high and dry to try and figure these things out on our own. Dispersed throughout the Bible we find several sections of scripture that teach us how to communicate, empathize, and get along with others effectively. God’s interpersonal skills cannot be matched. As the Creator, He understands exactly how humans think and behave. Here are twelve insights on interpersonal skills sent to us from above.
1. Speak evil of no one (I Thess. 5:14)
2. A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger(Proverbs 15:1)
3. The wise of heart is called perceptive, and pleasant speech increasespersuasiveness (Proverbs 16:21)
4. Be gentle and show courtesy to all people (Titus 3:2)
5. Do good to everyone (Gal. 6:10)
6. Bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2)
7. As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them (Luke 6:31)
8. Discern your own thoughts, identify your intentions (Heb. 4:12)
9. Treat others like you would treat Jesus. How would you interact withHim? (Matthew 25:40)
10. Season your speech with grace. It’s the saviors All-Spice for everyrelationship building goal (Col. 4:5-6)
11. Praise God and be joyful, it attracts people (Psalm 100:1-5)
12.Be ready for every good work, speak evil of no one, avoid quarreling, begentle, show courtesy to all people (Titus 3:1-15)
Notice how many passages in the Bible command us to speak differently than everyone else? All of these insights can be simply summed up in just one sentence. Talk, walk, and live more like Jesus. He was perfect in every way and that includes how he interacted with others. Modeling ourselves after the Savior will not only improve our relationship skills with others, but also with Him.
Jesus also teaches us that no matter how gentle and loving we are, we’ll still make some people upset. That’s alright! As long as we’re acting like the Lord in all things.
In Psalm 19:14 David says, “may the words of my mouth be acceptable in your sight.” In the previous verses of this chapter David writes about the perfect law of the Lord. Moved by the knowledge that the author of scripture is God almighty, David hopes that the words he speaks would be impacted by his knowledge of the Law. This is something we must long for as Christians. We know who the author of the Bible is, we understand the way we are called to live and speak, and that should influence our words. The Bible is very clear on how we are to speak.
Our words are a direct reflection of our faith. 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.” Do we call ourselves Christians but fail to control our words? James would say we are deceiving ourselves. Our speech is directly impacted by our religion. Our faith should change our speech and make it stand out from the world.
The Bible also gives us a very sobering warning in Matthew 12:36. Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” On that day will we find justification or condemnation from the words we have spoken? We should use this knowledge to help guard our speech.
Scripture also tells us in Luke 6:45 that, “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.” We can know the condition of our hearts by what is contained in our words.
Our tongue has a way of getting us in trouble. Ever heard the saying, “keep your words soft and sweet because you never know when you may have to eat them”?We can do a lot of damage if we aren’t careful. On every car there’s this handy little device called a fuel filter. A fuel filter is in between your car’s engine and the gas tank. Its job is to keep all the sediment and dirt that accumulates in the gas tank over time from getting to the engine. Basically it keeps impurities from destroying your engine. Our words need a fuel filter between the mind and the mouth. Think about what we are about to say. Is it impure or harmful in any way? Then don’t say it.
President Calvin Coolidge was famously known as a man of few words. His nickname was “Silent Cal.” His wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, told the story of a young woman who sat next to her husband at a dinner party. She told Coolidge she had a bet with a friend that she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, “You lose.” Coolidge understood very well the value of using only carefully considered words—and those being few in number. We filter our words and carefully choose them because like David, we understand who we belong to when we are Christians. God now owns our words and we use them to glorify Him in everything.
Psalm 19 is a beautiful tribute to the perfection of Scripture. Like David, each one of us should strive to let God’s word motivate us to live more like Christ in every way.
Research shows that the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, while many (you know who you are) speak much more than that. Think about what that means. 7000 words that will leave an imprint on those who hear. That’s an incredible opportunity that we are given…or maybe it’s a bad thing?
How do we use our words? As Christians those 7000 words should help us fulfill the command given to “make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-20). That begs the question, what should those 7000 words contain? Even more, what am I saying with those words?
We have the responsibility to share the good news with others, so what are my words doing to help accomplish this goal? Colossians 4:6 tells us what our daily speech should consist of. But first, notice the context. Colossians 4:5 says, “walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
We have been called to make the best use of the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” How do we do this? Colossians 4:6 tells us it’s by talking the right way. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
If we want to walk with wisdom and be effective towards those in the world, we must use the proper words. As Christians, our speech should be attractive. “Let you speech always be gracious.” Gracious is defined as, “A winning quality or attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction.” What does it mean to look attractive? We use this word to describe someone or something that has favorable qualities that we enjoy. Applying that to our speech, it must ALWAYS be described this way. There should never a moment where we stop.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.” We want people to leave conversations feeling better than when they first saw us. We want people to see Jesus in our speech.
We must always try our best to use attractive words. Always look for ways to encourage and help others with our speech. This means on the internet or in person. Our words are attractive when they are sincere and honest. We are called to have attractive speech, and the words we use must be genuine and real. Not saying them to sound holy or to look good, but out of love and concern for the souls of those who hear.
David spoke of his tongue as a pen (Ps. 45:1) and his enemies’ tongues as sharp swords (Ps. 57:4). We learn that God hates a tongue which forms lies (Prov. 6:17). Isaiah prophesied a future time so happy that it would case “the tongue of the dumb [to] sing” (Isa. 35:6). The ungodly tongue is described by Jeremiah as a “deadly arrow” (Jer. 9:8). James calls the unruly tongue a “fire” (Js. 3:6).
The tongue is unique among the body’s members. It has so many uses. With taste buds, it judges the palatability of the food we consume. With sensitive nerves, it screens the temperatures of the food and drink which enter the mouth. William McPherson, who lost his sense of sight, hearing, and all four limbs in a mining explosion, used his tongue to read the Bible in Braille. Coordinating with brain and various, undergirding muscles, the tongue is that powerful tool of communication responsible for speech and song. Like so much of what God created, it is a neutral invention. According to how it is used, the tongue is either a blessing or curse upon families, communities, and nations. Benjamin Franklin wrote, “A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over.” How can we identify a tongue positively used?
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL NOT BACKBITE. Those who wield their tongues positively will say something nice, or at least say nothing at all, about an occupant on the “rumor mill.” in fact, we should use our tongues to stop the backbiting of others (Prov. 25:23). A Welsh proverb goes, “Lord, remind us often that a gossip’s mouth is the devil’s mailbag.” Remember, there’s only one thing more difficult than unscrambling an egg and that’s unspreading a rumor. We wish only the best for others. We don’t want to contribute to another’s harm or embarrassment by saying or repeating something evil about them behind their back (Ps. 15:1; Rom. 1:30; 2 Cor. 12:20).
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK GOD’S WORD. On multiple occasions, the psalmist pledged to use his tongue this way (71:24; 119:172). When opportunities with our neighbors and friends clearly present themselves, how can we refrain our tongues from speaking Bible truth and divine expectations? When the Bible is disparaged in our presence, how can we hold back our tongues from defending words more precious than gold? God’s Word contain “glad tidings” (Acts 13:32; Lk. 8:1; Rom. 10:15).
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL SPEAK WHOLESOME WORDS. The Bible praises those who use wholesome words (Prov. 15:4; 1 Tim. 6:5). Profanity, vulgar stories, suggestive language and sexual innuendos do not drop off of a positive, wholesome tongue. Instead, we speak words that improve and sustain our good character.
A POSITIVE TONGUE WILL BE BRIDLED. That’s how you know who is religious (Js. 1:26). A hot head and a positive tongue don’t rest in the same skull. A blessing tongue and a cursing tongue do not lead to the same end (1 Pet. 3:10-11). A hypocritical tongue and a sincere tongue cannot belong to the same individual (1 Jn. 3:18). Self-control includes tongue-control.
Someone has written, “To speak kindly does not hurt the tongue.” It may only be about three inches long, but it can be trained not to do miles of damage. It can be positively controlled. A bridle for the tongue is a necessary tool which, when used, will cause one to be a shining light in the house of God.
This word has no positive meaning. Fouling on a spark plug means it’s time to replace it. A foul smell is an unpleasant one. Fouling in the barrel means it’s time to clean your gun. In sports, a foul is usually bad for your team.
In older English translations, “foul” is used to describe something impure, unholy, or evil (Mark 5.8; Luke 6.18; Revelation 16.13). Regardless, we understand that something foul is not what we want attributed to our character or in contact with our senses.
Are our words foul (Eph. 4.29)? Unwholesome here is σαπρός (sapros), which means “rotten, bad, or harmful.” It describes any kind of speech that has no positive effect or worth. Christians, there is no world in which cursing is excluded from this definition.
Consider the following:
I Corinthians 9.19ff encourages us to follow culture as long as it doesn’t violate God’s law. Even our secular culture recognizes that some words are not appropriate. Every culture has a set of words, phrases, postures, etc. that are offensive or recognized as inappropriate. These are σαπρός, and have no place in our lives.
I Peter 3.10 points out that our words have an effect on our quality of life. This includes avoiding lies and evil speech. Evil here is κακός (kakos), which means “bad, injurious, harmful, or wrong.” Lots of words fall under this category, but why are some exempting curse words? How do those not fit σαπρος or κακός?
In the last few years, even some theologians have argued that cursing is not under the purview of these passages. Far too many Christians use words that our culture understands to be curse words.
Ephesians four is a chapter about leaving our old lives behind. Part of leaving our old self behind is controlling our speech and using it to encourage others (28). By using foul language (σαπρος), we grieve (offend, distress, cause to become sad) the Holy Spirit (29)!
If we know that our words can have an effect on the Spirit that translates our deepest emotions and loss for words into meaningful petitions to God (Romans 8.26, 27), why would we use words that could very easily be described as worthless, harmful, or wrong?
How much do you trust a liar? A study was conducted by Psychology Today where they asked 1000 people how many lies they’ve told in the last 24 hours. The average answer was two lies, but 75 percent of men said they would lie if they were talking about their social status. 80 percent of women said they have lied about their weight.
The average person we come in contact with has no problem lying to us. Whether it’s at work, in school or to friends and family, the majority of people feel that it’s morally okay to lie.
Ephesians 4:25 says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
“Therefore” is a grammatical tie to previous verses. Each time we read this word we should see it as a finger pointing up to the previous verses. Contextually Paul is saying, “Therefore, since we have put on the new self lay aside falsehood.”
If you’re a Christian reading this verse, you have put on the new self. So we are commanded to stop lying and be truthful in our interactions with others.
Paul commands us to tell the truth. This seems like a simple command, yet sadly we get caught up in telling lies. We want what’s easiest. Many are tempted to take what seems to be the easy way out.
But there is something to keep in mind the next time we are tempted to lie:
Our reputation is ruined by dishonesty. If people catch us lying, why would they believe us at all? The boy who cried wolf is a prime example of this very fact. We all know how this story goes, and the bottom line is we lose our credibility if we lie. When we are honest and choose to tell the truth, people will trust us, and God’s Word has a better chance of reaching the lost.
When it comes to our Christianity, we want people to trust us. When we lie we lose our credibility and our ability to proclaim the gospel is harmed. Telling the truth in every situation is an attribute we are to have in our new walk with Christ. Plus, nobody wants to be friends with a liar.