Our Ability to Communicate Is One of God's Greatest Gifts!
O LORD God, You are my great and glorious Creator! You have given me all of my gifts and abilities, among them the gift of communication. Move me, O LORD, this day to sing Your praises, to proclaim Your truths, and to bring before You my most earnest petitions. Yes, bless me with Your power as I worship this day in Your presence. Amen.
Proverbs 2:6, Proverbs 4:5, Proverbs 4:24, Proverbs 6:16-19, Proverbs 10:11-14, Proverbs 10:19-21, Proverbs 12:17-19, Proverbs 12:22, Proverbs 12:25, Proverbs 15:1-4, Proverbs 16:24, Proverbs 18:21, Proverbs 21:23, Proverbs 25:11-12, Proverbs 30:5
Selected Passages on Communication
Solomon provides us with wise counsel on what we should embrace and what we should avoid when it comes to our communication with each other. May we embrace that counsel!
Text: Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
In Christ Jesus, the Word of God through whom our heavenly Father communicates His love for us, dear fellow redeemed:
Many of you, no doubt, will recognize the names—Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Helen Keller was born in 1880. When she was 1½ years old she experienced a debilitating sickness, which left her blind, deaf, and mute. Consequently, she was deprived of the faculties necessary for normal communication—faculties we can so often take for granted. When Helen Keller was six years old her parents hired Anne Sullivan to be her private tutor. Anne’s heroic efforts and Helen’s subsequent success—graduating with honors from college and becoming an author, speaker, and political activist were documented in the 1962 film entitled, “The Miracle Worker.”
Our ability to communicate is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Unfortunately, as with all great gifts, Satan has been able to corrupt it. Consequently, while God intended communication to be a blessing for us and to us, it often becomes a means of sin in our lives and a source of great sorrow. The apostle Paul addresses the issue of communication in our text. Let us consider his words with this thought and determination in mind: OUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS ONE OF GOD’S GREATEST GIFTS! Let us, therefore, use that gift to edify, to adore, and to restore!
Paul begins our text with this evangelical admonition: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” In our children’s sermon, I asked the children whether or not they thought Jesus would ever use “bad words” or use His words “to tear people down.” They, of course, said, “No!” If we were to ask that question of ourselves, I am afraid we would have to say, “Well, unfortunately at least sometimes.”
Why do corrupt words come out of our mouths? Why do we find ourselves using our ability to communicate at times in such negative ways—complaining about, criticizing, and cutting others down? The simple answer, of course, is sin! We are by nature sinful. Even after becoming Christians, we retain our sinful flesh. In his devastating critique of man’s natural state in Romans 3, the apostle Paul states regarding our human ability to communicate: “Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit. The poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Rom. 3:13-14). After the apostle James points out that the human tongue is “a little member and boasts great things,” he goes on to say to all of us who are Christians: “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:5-10).
These things indeed ought not to be, but all too frequently they are! This was never God’s intention. God created us with the ability to communicate in order that we might “edify,” that is, build each other up. Imagine a world in which that truly was the case with every form and every occasion of communication! That original divine intention, however, was corrupted when sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. Neither Adam’s words, nor Eve’s were too edifying when God confronted them with their sin (cf. Gen. 3:12-13). Their words were filled with blame and incrimination. That is why Paul adds by way of explanation that our words are to be “good” words, which “impart grace” to those who hear us. Grace is God’s undeserved love. It is that desire of God, which led Him to send Jesus to be our Savior. Grace led to Jesus’ incarnation, His life of compassion, His crucifixion, and His resurrection—all for us. Grace led to God’s declaration that we sinners have been justified by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. As God speaks grace to us, so that we might be edified—built up by His Word, so we are to speak grace to those around us, so that they too might be edified—built up by our words. OUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS ONE OF GOD’S GREATEST GIFTS! Let us, therefore, use that gift to edify!
Let us also use that gift to adore! Paul continues: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” It is interesting to note that of all the sins we can commit—murder, adultery, theft, covetousness…it is only our sins of communication which are said in the Bible to “grieve” the Holy Spirit. That is not to say that all of our other sins are insignificant and do not grieve our God and Savior, but only the sins of our tongue are said to grieve the Holy Spirit. Why might that be the case? I believe it is because the Holy Spirit has chosen to work through the words that we speak to effect His work of conversion and sanctification within people’s hearts. Remember—“faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). We are privileged to carry the gospel message on our tongues and to share it with others using our lips. The Holy Spirit uses our words to bring home the message of His love to the hearts of others, so that the Holy Spirit might “seal” those hearts for God in advance of the final “day of redemption”—the day that any of us is redeemed by death out of this world and taken to heaven.
How carefully we must then choose the words which come out of our mouths! We want those words to honor our Savior God, to represent Him properly, and to advance His kingdom goals. If my words are uttered in anger, out of spite, or with the intention of harming others, they will “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” But must we not tell the truth? If someone is doing something wrong, do we not have to address it, no matter how hard it may be to talk about that particular subject? Yes we do, but let us remember that Paul earlier is this very chapter states that we must always “speak the truth in love” (cf. Eph. 4:15). Let us never attempt to justify our unloving attempts at communication by saying, “I was only trying to do what was right.” Let us rather think before we speak! Let us make sure that our goals are God’s goals. God’s goals are never to vent our frustrations, to make ourselves feel superior to others, or to put others in their place! God’s goal is for us to edify, which means in the case of someone entangled in sin, to lead them to repentance and renewed faith—something that will never be achieved if we grieve the Holy Spirit by our words.
Rather, let us strive to use our gift of communication always to adore our Savior God. “Sing to the LORD a new song,” the Psalmist encourages (Ps. 98:1). “Praise the name of the LORD,” he enjoins (Ps. 135:1). Just as Jesus once said concerning feeding the hungry or visiting the sick that “inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Mt. 25:40), even so when we use our gift of communication to bring blessing to one another, we also bring blessing to our precious Savior—in other words we adore Him! OUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS ONE OF GOD’S GREATEST GIFTS! Let us, therefore, use that gift to adore!
Finally, let us use that gift of communication to restore! Jesus concludes our text with these words: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” This section of our text is so very important, for it truly reveals the key to successful relationships in this life!
We live in a world filled with sin. People will sin against us. We will be offended by what others do or say. Satan will use those sins to hurt our feelings and to attempt to sow bitterness within our minds and hearts. He will then attempt to stoke that bitterness into feelings of wrath and anger. He will further attempt to cause those feelings of bitterness, wrath, and anger to produce outbursts on our parts—especially of evil speaking, because words can and do have a tremendous negative impact. Satan wants us to vent, and he wants us to feel good about it. He will seek to move us to justify ourselves on the basis of the sins of others, on the basis of our hurt, and with the thought that they truly deserve what they are getting. But Paul says, “Let all (that stuff—that) bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you.”
“Let all…be put away from you.” “Let all….” Do you realize that often Satan, through our self-justification and feelings of superiority, leads us to hold on tightly to our feelings of bitterness and anger, so that we in effect refuse to let them go? He convinces us that we are right and the other person is wrong. Therefore, we come to believe that we have the right to be angry and to say those hurtful things, because we have been hurt so badly. Paul says…God says, “No! Let those thoughts, those feelings, those justifications be put away from you!”
God did not give you and me the gift of communication to speak bitter and angry words at the people surrounding us in this life. Rather, He gave us that ability so that we might be “kind to one another.” He gave us that ability so that His tender heart might cause us to be tenderhearted, and to treat one another accordingly. He wants us to forgive one another—not because we feel they deserve it, but rather because of that fact that “God in Christ forgave you (and me)!” Why did God forgive you and me? Was it because we deserved it? Hardly! He forgave us in view of His grace—that undeserved love which wraps God’s arms around us to assure us that we are loved, that we are especially precious to Him, and that we are His beloved children. He forgave us so that we might be restored into His family! We are to forgive, so that our fellow sinners might ultimately be restored as your sister-in-Christ and mine, your brother-in-Christ and mine…fellow heirs of the kingdom of God!
My dear friends in Christ—imagine being like Helen Keller…not being able to see, to hear, or to speak…not being able to communicate! How different your life and mine would be! How wretched those lives would be! Let us thank God regularly, because OUR ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IS ONE OF GOD’S GREATEST GIFTS! That is why Satan tries so mightily to corrupt it. Let us strive not to allow that to happen. Rather, let us treasure that gift and seek always to be guided by the love of Christ as we exercise it. Yes, let us use that gift to edify one another, to adore our Savior God, and to restore others to healthy relationships with God, ourselves, and others! Amen.
--Pastor Paul D. Nolting
To God alone be glory!