Whenever we open our mouths, we’re on stage. We will give an account to God for every word. As those who love Christ, how can we grow in the area of right speech?
Real growth proves to be impossible in our own strength. We can’t rely on our own good intentions. These often fail us. However, we can rely on our knowledge of God’s Word, the Lord’s convicting presence, and the empowerment of his Spirit.
Real growth proves to be impossible in our own strength. However, we can rely on our knowledge of God's Word, the Lord's convicting presence, and the empowerment of his Spirit. Click To Tweet
The problem is our hearts. The content of our hearts flows out in our speech. We can only be speakers of loving, godly speech when our hearts are right with God. For that, we require God’s help because our sinful natures get in the way. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit causes love and holiness to grow and increase in our lives.
We all need the Lord’s transformative work in our lives to speak as we ought. Our hearts need to change. Watchfulness and thankfulness are key ingredients. God must do this work in us.
Paul asked for prayer that a door would open for the Gospel to be proclaimed boldly and clearly. Prayer is essential when telling others the message of God’s love and forgiveness. If the apostle Paul needed prayer in order to make the most of every opportunity, then so certainly do we.
Wise actions are essential toward those who aren’t familiar with the Christian faith, who are of another belief system, or who claim no faith at all — here called “outsiders,” not in a derogatory way, but merely as a clarification.
Think about salt. We sprinkle in just enough for good flavor, but not so much as to overwhelm the palate, killing the desire for more. The right amount of salt preserves and seasons. This is what our conversations must model. The seasoning of grace and kindness must beautify our words.
This requires personal growth. All can be done only with the wisdom and grace God provides. We can’t do this in our own strength.
If Christ is in us, our actions and our words should be filled with the love of God, and not with condemnation or judgment. Growth flows from an awareness of our own deep need for Christ.
If Christ is in us, our actions and our words should be filled with the love of God, and not with condemnation or judgment. Growth flows from an awareness of our own deep need for Christ. Click To Tweet
This paragraph was written to believers in slavery, perhaps the majority of the ancient first-century church at that time. If these instructions applied to believers under the oppression of slavery, then surely, as free people we can also entrust ourselves to the Lord.
When we suffer injustice, we can only respond correctly by being conscious of God and of both his immediate and his long-term help.
When we’re mistreated, the sovereign Lord and Judge sees. One day, he will bring justice. In the meantime, we entrust ourselves to God, aware of his all-seeing eye and his promises of justice. We walk in Christ’s steps.
When we suffer injustice, we can only respond correctly by being conscious of God and of both his immediate and his long-term help. Click To Tweet
The Lord Jesus didn’t manipulate the situation for personal advantage. When he was insulted, he didn’t retort. When he suffered, he didn’t threaten. Rather, he entrusted himself to God. He could have scorched the earth and flattened his opponents, but he didn’t. He had come to sacrifice his life, and so he suffered in silence because of his great love for us and his desire to die for our sins.
We are to live as he lived and to speak as he spoke. Like him, rather than retorting, we are to entrust ourselves and the outcome into God’s hands, whatever happens, knowing that the Father will bring justice in his time. He is the just Judge, and so we leave justice in God’s hand. On the last day, all will be made right. This self-control and trust will require a lifetime of growth.
This passage is packed with practical growth. In Christ we are made new; the old self has passed away. The Holy Spirit now lives within us, helping us and convicting us.
Sadly, we often forget and live as if we don’t have Christ in our lives. We hold onto our anger, rather than forgiving. We bear grudges. We speak unwholesome words. We grieve the Spirit. Our bitter hearts prompt us to slander one another and to regard others with malice. We’re not kind.
We forget to take off the old self and to put on the new self. But, this passage makes clear that we must be renewed in order to be truthful, brutally honest with ourselves about our own blunders, not shading the truth so that we look better.
We are transformed as Christ enables us to let go of each day’s anger by the end of that day, forgiving quickly. This can’t be done without God’s power in us — notice the common theme here.
We are transformed as Christ enables us to let go of each day's anger by the end of that day, forgiving quickly. Click To Tweet
If we don’t forgive, bitterness consumes us, prompting wrath, anger, fighting, and slander as we do everything in our power to paint the other as bad and ourselves as good. A heart full of malice cannot be kind. Here the Lord makes it clear that we are to be kind and tender hearted, forgiving our opponents completely, as God has forgiven us.
We need more kind speech in our homes, in our public discourses on social media, and out in the world. Shouting down opponents, not allowing the other to speak, vilifying the others’ opinions, cutting people off, and not listening respectfully are not Christian modes of communication.
Growth entails trusting the Lord, walking in his steps, and relying on him. It isn’t a self-improvement project, but a lifelong challenge of learning to walk in the Spirit and to allow him to transforms our thoughts, words, and actions.