Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Again, you've heard,
‘You shall … fulfill your vows to the Lord.’
But I say to you:
Make no oath at all …
Let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’;
…anything beyond these is of evil.
(Excerpts from Matthew 5.33-37)

All teleios disciples are disciple-makers, and we make disciples by teaching.  We teach with our words and with our actions, if we’re like Jesus.  Now consider how this might affect the way you speak and the things you say. 

For many of us, speaking is a way to impact another person for our own benefit.  We want them to think we’re funny or smart or to like us.  Sometimes we want sympathy or pity, or to be romantic, to convey information or win an argument.  As you mature as a disciple, you’ll change the way you communicate.  Paul wrote, “When I was a child I spoke, thought and reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things” (1 Cor. 13.11).  Paul was using physical childhood to describe spiritual growth. 

As we grow to the stage of making new disciples, we will discover that our words will help us - or betray us.  If others catch us in a dishonest or inaccurate moment, we lose credibility.  Here are some words you should pray about and make sure you own these:
Credibility, credible, trustworthy & veracity
If you are a credible person, it means you’re “believable,” to to have veracity means that you speak truth.  When we tell the gospel (good news) we claim that a man lived a perfect life, then died, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven.  It’s not easy for some people to believe that, just as it’s difficult for many to believe God created the heavens and the earth.  But here’s the thing:
If you aren't credible or believable and if you don’t have a reputation as one who always tells the truth and checks your facts … how are people to believe you on a subject as important as eternity? 

If we truly love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves, then we’ll understand that love demands we always speak the truth in love:
We’re no longer to be children (tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming)- BUT speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into him who is the head: Christ!…from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.  (Ephesians 4:14-16)
Truth and love are inseparable.  Failing to speak truthfully is a failure of love. 
So, how do we make certain we are speaking the truth in love?
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad;
For the tree is known by its fruit…  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”Matthew 12:33-37
Jesus is giving a warning – a stern warning – that we ought to be very careful about what we say.  But he is also telling us a secret to how to speak well!  Many of us try to control our tongue and say only the right things.  But James warns that this is impossible:
Let not many become teachers … knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble... If anyone doesn't stumble in what he says, he’s a teleios man….
Every species … has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it’s a restless evil. 
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.- Excerpts from James 3
So if it’s impossible to tame the tongue, but Jesus says we’ll be judged by every careless word … aren't we doomed?  No.  In both James and in Jesus’ teaching the principle is the same – if you change the source of the words, the words will automatically change.  Olive trees produce olives, and grape vines make grapes.  The human “tree” is the human heart.  If you work on your heart, your words will change automatically. 

Consider the heart/tongue relationship:
  • If you care for your friend from the heart … you will speak things that are a blessing to him
  • If you love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll care about him
  • If you believe in eternal life, you’ll care more about her eternity than her present troubles
  • If you love your neighbor as yourself, you’ll listen more, speak carefully and truthfully
  • If you are more concerned about friendship, your image, and life in this world … your speech will reflect what’s in your heart, and you’ll have a veneer to cover up the truth   

If you truly believe in your heart that following Jesus fanatically produces the best life now and eternal life after death; your words will be true and accurate and pure.  You’ll show compassion at just the right times and you’ll give a rebuke when it’s needed for your sister or brother’s good.

Remember that we cannot control what others think of us, but we can control who we really are.  If you’re more concerned about your image, then you’ll use makeup, nice clothes and dazzling speech to mask your pitiful, ugly, shameful and selfish heart.  But if you want to be like Jesus, you’ll work from the inside out – asking God and brothers and sisters to help you change and grow your heart into something beautiful and “otherful.”
Love rejoices with the truth
1 Corinthians 13:6

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
- John Wooden

No comments:

Post a Comment