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Im4God Newsletter 07.12.07@

Welcome to the / July 12th, 2007 Newsletter!
You can email Webservant Peter J. Louie by replying to this message.

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Deep down we know that our words have an effect on our hearers.  Don't believe the saying: 'Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.'  Words have the power to destroy or to give life.  Do you realize the effect your words have on others?  God commands us to "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."  In this issue we look at the power of our words.  May our words be seasoned with salt and humility!

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1 Peter 3:8-12 -

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For

"Whoever desires to love life
   and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
   and his lips from speaking deceit;
let him turn away from evil and do good;
   let him seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
   and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."

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Audio Sermons:

The Power of Words by Pastor Sharrett of Redeemer Lynchburg PCA (34 minutes) (Sermon text: 1 Peter 3:8-12)

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Speaking Words of Redemption into a World of Sin
by Paul Tripp

Speaking redemptively is all about choosing our words carefully. It is about the words we say, and the words we have chosen not to say. Speaking redemptively is about being prepared to say the right thing at the right moment and exercising self-control. Speaking redemptively is refusing to let our talk be driven by passion and personal desire but communicating instead with God's purposes in view. It is exercising the faith needed to be part of what God is doing at the moment.

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other" (Gal 5:13-15).

This passage tells us that the opposite of serving in love is not merely a lack of love and a lack of service, but an active indulging in the sinful nature! Either I am living as a servant of the Lord and accepting his call to serve those around me or I am living to gratify the cravings of the sinful nature and expecting others to satisfy those cravings as well.

When a desire for a certain thing replaces love for God as the controlling force in my heart, the result will be conflict in my relationships. But love for God that makes me want to keep his law will always result in practical love toward my neighbor. Thus, speaking redemptively is not a superficial matter of choosing the right vocabulary, but a fundamental heart commitment to choose words that promote God's work in a particular situation.

Remember, speaking redemptively does not mean we ignore the practical concerns of life. We cannot, because we will encounter them every day. Rather, speaking redemptively speaks to these concerns in a way that promotes the interests of the King. Here are some ways to do just that.

Recognize the war within. The war within our hearts is the conflict, the basis of every other war we battle. We should never give in to thinking that our primary battle is with flesh and blood (see Eph 6:10-12), as if our husband, wife, parent, child, brother, sister, or friend were the enemy.

There is only one enemy who wants us to forget the real battle and to give in to the desires of the sinful nature. We defeat the work of this enemy when we speak out of an active awareness of the real spiritual war within. To forget the presence and power of indwelling sin will immediately lead to problems in our talk.

Purpose never to give in to the sin nature while speaking. When something goes wrong, we may desire to assess blame, to separate ourselves from responsibility, to rehearse all the other times this person failed us, to share the failure of this person with another, or to have that person hurt as we hurt. We may feel jealousy, bitterness, hatred, or rage.

Speaking redemptively means saying "No" to any communication that would flow from these desires. Speaking redemptively does not start with examining the situation, the needs of the person(s) with whom we need to talk, or even the relevant Scripture passages. Speaking redemptively begins with self-examination.

Speak only in accordance with the Spirit's ongoing work in people. As a Christian, the most important thing in my life is the completion of God's work in me and others, to the praise of his glory. I never want to obstruct what he is doing as Redeemer in the little moments of life. I recognize that ultimately those moments do not belong to me but to him. They are the workroom in which he does his work of sanctification. My job is to be a usable instrument in his redeeming hands. Any time I speak out of my own sinful desires, I am communicating in a way that is contrary to what the Spirit is seeking to produce in me.

Examine how the fruit of the sin nature is present in your talk. I must be willing to examine my talk with the mirror of the Word of God. So I look for words of envy, jealousy, pride, anger, rage, malice, hatred, selfishness, self-righteousness, self-protection, and defensiveness. I look for words that evidence impatience, irritation, a lack of forgiveness, unkindness, or a lack of gentleness. I look for talk that is coarse or materialistic.

And I do this with joy, realizing that because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, I do not have to live under the control of the sinful nature (Ro 8:5-11)

Have a restorative view of relationships. "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently" (Gal 6:1). Here, Paul is talking about all of us this side of glory. We get "caught" in anger, pride, self-pity, envy, vengeance, self-righteousness, bitterness, lust, selfishness, fear, and disbelief. And either we don't know that we are caught or we don't know how to extricate ourselves. Until that day when we are with Christ forever, we need to recognize that as sinners, we need one another.

Paul then says, "You who are spiritual should restore him gently." When we are "keeping in step with the Spirit" (Gal 5:25), we position ourselves to be one of these restorers. Speaking redemptively means letting this restoration agenda direct our relationships.

We are all tempted to think that our relationships belong to us; we tend to view other people as our possessions. We judge people according to the way they respond to us and affect us. We look for proper respect, love, appreciation, acceptance, and honor, and we find it very hard to continue in relationships where those things do not exist.

Paul is calling us to something radically different here: the fundamental recognition that our relationships do not belong to us but to God. Once we begin to think of our relationships this way, we begin to see the need for restoration all around us. When you're on a vacation and the children are quarreling in the back seat, you can respond as an irritated parent whose children are robbing him of his vacation dreams, or you can respond as a restorer who wants to be a tool in the hands of the great Restorer.

When husbands and wives disagree over the same old stuff once again, they need to do more than curse the fact that their marriage doesn't work or that the other person never has a clue. They need to discover where they are "caught" and they need to respond to one another, not with a demand agenda, but with a restoration agenda. The greatest work of human relationships is not the pursuit of human happiness but reconciliation to God and restoration to the image of his Son.

Speak with humility and gentleness. Harsh or prideful talk in the face of another's weakness, temptation, and sin simply contradicts the message of the gospel.

Gentleness should be our natural response when we see a brother or sister ensnared in sin; except for God's grace, we would be where they are. We can be gentle because we have given up any hope that human pressure, power, or logic can change the heart. It is never the loudness of our voice, the power of our words, the drama of the moment, the creativity of our illustrations, the strength of our vocabulary, the specter of our threats, or the grandeur of our gestures that causes a turning within people.

As we all struggle with the reality of remaining sin, it is vital that our communication mirror the compelling love of Christ. Gentle talk does not come from a person who is angry and looking to settle a score. It comes from the person who is speaking not because of what he wants from you but what he wants for you. I speak to you, not because your sin has affected me, but because it has ensnared you. Gentleness flows from knowing where our power lies. Jesus is our only argument, our only hope. He alone is able to change our hearts. We want to talk in such a way that draws people to hope in him.

Practice other-centered living and other-centered communication. "Carry each other's burdens." How do we apply this to our communication?

When we see someone struggling with weakness, we point him to the strength he has in Christ. When someone is ignorant, we speak to her with wisdom-giving words of truth. When someone is fearful, we talk of the God who is an ever-present help in trouble. When someone grieves, we seek to bring words of comfort. When another is discouraged, we seek to bring words of hope. When they're feeling alone, we greet them with expressions of our love and Christ's presence. When they're angry, we point to a God of righteousness, vengeance, and justice. When they're engaged in conflict, we speak to them as peacemakers and reconcilers. When they're anxious, we point to the Sabbath of rest that Christ has given his children.

Speaking redemptively means choosing our words carefully and well. What radical revival, reconciliation, and restoration would result in our churches, homes, and friendships if we carried this call into every relationship and every situation! How different things would be if we were consistently committed to speaking redemptively!

How important it is for us to choose our words carefully.

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Taken from Sovereign Grace Magazine July/August 2000.  Article archived here.

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