The Power of Words
Café Menu for Monday, October 5, 2015
Today’s Special is: New Words/New Behaviors
Carefully prepared just for you by your friend, Dawn Neely
Let not unwholesome talk come out of your mouth but only that which would edify, build up and give grace to the hearer. And be ye kind, one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God for Christ sake hath forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:29 & 32 NAS
There are six behaviors of the old man we must put off: Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. All these terms describe the same selfish, sinful behavior, but from slightly different angles.
Bitterness results from anger or hurt feelings which are not dealt with. It results from blaming or keeping score. It is long-term hostility.
Wrath means outbursts of anger.
Anger refers to a settled disposition or attitude, often with the purpose of revenge.
Clamor means fighting with loud words, yelling, screaming or crying.
Slander means speaking against someone to another, trying to damage the person’s reputation so that you look good.
Malice is a general term for any kind of ill-will toward a person.
All these actions are motivated by self and are thus opposed to love. They must be put off like dirty clothes. In their place, we can resolve conflicts if we put on the behaviors of the new man that we have become in Christ.
Kindness is too often missing in our culture. A kind person thinks of the other person’s needs and takes action to meet those needs. A kind husband allows his wife and children room to make mistakes without reminding them of the offense. To be tender-hearted means to feel deeply for one another. Love cares and shows it. Love is a verb.
Forgiving one another points to underserved favor. How God forgave you and I is the standard. He did not forgive us because we deserved it. As Jesus taught in His parable in Matthew 18:21-35, God has forgiven us an enormous debt, so that anything we forgive one another is small by way of comparison. Forgiveness is costly and difficult; but not forgiving is not an option for Christians (Matt. 6:14-15). If you or I are wronged, ask for forgiveness; if you are wronged, forgive in your heart even before the other person repents.
To speak to others, or to think of others in an unkind, selfish way is to grieve the Holy Spirit. The reason we must seek to put off the behaviors of the old man is that we must maintain a right relationship with the Holy Spirit. We cannot separate our relationship with God and our relationship with one another. The Apostle John says that if we say we love God, but we do not love our brother, we are deceived (1 John 4:20). If a man claims to be a Christian but is living for self, shredding relationships with his family and in the church, he’d better examine his relationship with God.
As we examine our life through the Word of God, we can learn what pleases the Lord and we will grow more sensitive to our words, thoughts and deeds. What if we all took the advice of Eph. 4:29 and spoke to one another in a way that would build up, edify and give grace to the hearer. What a different world, and church we would have!
The good news is in Christ, there can be true harmony and the resolving of conflicts if we learn to put off the old way of life and put on the new life He has graciously provided for us.
Is there frequent conflict in your home? Are your relationships with others splintered? Are your words laced with grace or are you one who enjoys gossip and spreading seeds of discord?
Then put off the selfish behavior of the old man and put on the loving behavior of the new man out of a desire to please the Lord who gave Himself so that we could be forgiven. Accept Christ as your Savior or rededicate your life to speaking to others in a manner that builds them up and gives grace to the hearer.
Our dear gracious Heavenly Father, I pray today that I might be found faithful. That my words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart will be found acceptable in Your sight, oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14). Amen.
© 2015 by Dawn Neely. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Monday, 05 October 2015.