Winsomely Weird Wednesdays

“Speech”

October 2, 2019

Welcome & Dismiss Kids to Kids Club

“Let the words of my mouth

and the meditation of my heart

be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

– Psalm 19:4

Songs – #104 “Come, Thou Fount” & #49 “O for a Thousand Tongues”

Testimonies – How can you encourage the church with something you’ve seen God do lately? [ABC]

Teaching

Recap

This is our third Midweek Meeting. If you missed the first two, allow me to briefly recap, because everything else we do this fall will be run through a grid that we established the first two weeks.

We’re calling this series ‘Winsomely Weird’. Winsomein the world, engaged, rubbing shoulders with the lost with love, not sequestered in a holy huddle. Weird – not of the world, distinct, different, holy, peculiar, not just going right along with the flow of the fallen world. Winsomely weird.

Last week we saw how we as the church are to be winsomely weird when it comes to our authority and our purpose. Our authority is not our Tradition or our Thoughts or Feelings. We don’t take our cues from what our culture says. Our authority is God. And the only way for that to really work is to have a written revelation from God. It can’t be subjective personal impressions – “I sense God telling me this;” “Well, I feel God telling me this.” Submitting to Scripture makes us weird, but it doesn’t have to make us repulsive. It’s actually a strangely beautiful way to live, under God’s ancient authority and not setting oneself up as the authority.

And then with regard to purpose – the world lives for the goal of pleasing Self. Express yourself, defend yourself, love yourself… But we live for the honor of the One who lived and died for us. It’s a noble cause that is bigger than the small pursuit of Self, but it will definitely make us stand out.

A Foreign Language

Today’s topic, at your request, is speech, the way we talk. You’ve heard how the term ‘barbarian’ came to be, right? The Greeks and Romans listened to the foreign cultures talking and it just sounded like gibberish to them: bar bar bar bar to them. So they called them barbarians. They talked weird. Likewise, Christians, who are citizens of heaven, speak with a strange tongue to the ears of this world. People will think we talk weird. They will notice our accent. “You’re not from round here, are you?” “No, no I’m not.” We’re aliens and strangers. And that will make many mad – “Go back to where you came from.”

But, have you ever heard a foreign language that you didn’t really understand, but it sounded kind of cool? Maybe even made you want to learn it? That’s what the language of the kingdom of God is like. Weird, but winsome, intriguing.

The Word of God on the Words of His People

If the Bible is our authority, we must look to God’s Word to tell us how our words should be winsomely weird. And the Bible actually has a lot to say about this topic. There’s no way I can cover it all here. If you want, do a search of all the times that ‘lips’, ‘mouth’, or ‘words’ occurs in Proverbs. It’s a major theme!

First off, we learn from the Bible that words are powerful and they matter. Genesis 1 – “And God said, ‘Let there be…’ and there was…” Psalm 33:9 – “He spoke, and it came to be.” God’s words have creative power, and so do ours to a lesser extent, of course, but potent nonetheless. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is not true! Words have the ability to impact people, negatively and positively. And we will be held accountable for our words – “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Mt. 12:36).

Let’s look at some of the negative uses of words that the Bible mentions, ways that the world talks that the church shouldn’t imitate?

LYING Let’s start with an obvious one. The 9th commandment – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” The world uses words to try to bend the truth to suit themselves. We deceive, we spin, we flatter, we are selective in what we say… all designed to protect ourselves and manipulate others to do what we want. Do you know people that you just can’t quite totally trust? What does Jesus mean in Matthew 5:37 when he says to his followers: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” We are supposed to be weird in the world by being people who just tell the truth; we aren’t hiding or positioning or smooth talking… But this makes us winsome because it comes from someone who is secure in who he or she is in Christ; people who twist the truth are really insecure.

GOSSIPPING How much conversation among people at your work is about other people? If you take gossip away from most conversations, there’s not much left. Dishing gossip: Did you hear about…? Or digging for gossip: What’s so-and-so been doing lately? You want to know something privileged and if you do it makes you feel important to let other people know you know it. Proverbs 18:8 – “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts” (NIV). The world feasts on juicy gossip. We are will be thought weird if we say something like, “I don’t think we should be talking about this.” Proverbs 11:13 – “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret” (NIV). Abstaining from gossip will ultimately make us winsome because people will realize that they can trust us.

GRUMBLING So if you take gossip away from water cooler conversations AND you also take away grumbling you really don’t have much left. Have you noticed how easy it is to slip in to griping about something – the weather, your boss, how much sleep you got, this, that…? The world conditions us to complain. To complain is cool. If you ask someone how they’re doing, most likely you’re going to get back some kind of complaint. Philippians 2:14-15 – “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Not grumbling will really make you stand out, but really who wants to be around someone who is always negative? Not joining in with cynical grumbling will be winsome, if a bit weird.

BOASTING So you’re sitting around the break room at the office and nobody is allowed to lie, gossip or grumble. Now take away boasting and bragging. Jude 16 talks about “grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; [and] loud-mouthed boasters…” The world loves to turn everything back to ourselves – to name drop, make sure people know what we know or what we’ve done, talk about our own experiences, our kids. We should stand out by being humble. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). But this is really winsome because, c’mon who really wants to be around people who are stuck on themselves?

COARSE JOKING So you’re in the locker room. No falsehoods allowed. No gossip. No grumbling. No boasting. And then you take away coarse joking! What could possibly be left? Ephesians 5:4 is very clear about this – “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place.” That’s not how God’s people should talk. The world talks about inappropriate things all the time – off color humor, lewdness, sex… “In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Col. 3:7-8). The world will think we are prudes – C’mon! Lighten up! But they will notice that we don’t laugh at the jokes and don’t join in.

CUSSING And then there’s cussing. Can Christians say cuss words? Yes. But. Have you ever heard someone who’s vocabulary seems very limited? It happens among educated and non-educated alike, but every other word is a swear word. I think Christians should stand out among their peers by not using words that the world itself deems profanity. There is not a Bible verse that says, “Thou shalt not use the s-word or drop the f-bomb.” They are culturally defined words. But here I think two principles are helpful. The first is that of self-control. Control your tongue. Don’t blurt out expletives in anger or frustration when you lose your filter. It’s good to strengthen your filter and not let your lips be loose. The second is the principle of the weaker brother. Are all words the same? Yes, but to many, many people there are certain words that are off limits and would wound their consciences and cause them to stumble (Rom. 14). So be willing to give up your freedoms to not give offense. And I think it does more to our witness to stand out by not using swear words than it helps to join in using them. But wisdom is needed: are you trying to be cool in the world’s eyes by cussing? Or do you have a good reason to use a certain word.

Lastly, on the negative side of words, I would point out that there’s a danger in just talking too much. Proverbs 10:19 – “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Just venting, yacking, blabbering, talking too much, running at the mouth can be a problem. I think this has a big application to our online life – blogs, Twitter, Facebook… Some people are just saying too much and need to hold their tongue. Choose your words wisely.

James 3:3-12 –

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

This brings us to the positive side of our words, our tongue, our mouths, our speech. If you can’t lie, gossip, grumble, boast, tell crude jokes, or cuss, what can you do? Just sit and say nothing? What is the tongue for? We saw last week that the world lives from Self and to Self. The purpose of the world’s words is to make Self look better, build up Self by tearing down others, draw attention to Self… But for Christians, our purpose is the glory of God and good of others. So we use our words to worship, to edify, and to evangelize.

WORSHIP I could pick one of hundreds of verses about this. Here’s one – “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you” (Ps. 63:3). We are to sing his praises, speak of his wonders, ascribe glory due to him… The commandment to not use the Lord’s name in vain is a commandment to positively use our mouths to make much of him.

EDIFY Edify means to build up, specifically other believers. We are to use our lips to love others. Ephesians 4:29 is so helpful here – “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.” We should use our words to encourage, teach, correct, affirm, rebuke, instruct, comfort each other. Isaiah 50:4 – “The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary.”

EVANGELIZE Paul says, “[Pray] for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Eph. 6:19-20). Our mouths were made to share the gospel with others. The gospel is a word, that must be vocalized.

By the authority of God’s Word, Christians will be weird in their use of words. We will not join in with the worlds lying, gossiping, grumbling, boasting, joking, cursing, and just frivolous jabbering jabbering. Instead, we will use our mouths to worship, edify, and evangelize. We will “let [our] speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). Is there a category I have missed??

Finally, I want to point out that we can’t just bite our tongues or force ourselves to say the right things. That is fake and won’t work. I want to remind us of what our Lord said – “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” The words of our mouths reveal what is in our hearts. So we need (a) new hearts, but God’s grace, and (b) to keep hiding God’s word in our hearts (see Ps. 119:11), so that what overflows out of it is good, especially the gospel word of grace.

What’s Next?

What do you want to do next? Fitness; Bioethics; Gender, Sexuality, & Family; Drugs & Alcohol; Entertainment; Relationships & Conflict; Work, Money & Possessions…

Prayer – Get together into groups: people born in the West, people born in the Midwest, people born in the South, people born in the East, people born outside the United States…

Pray for forgiveness for the ways that we have joined in the way the world talks…

Pray for opportunities to edify others in the body…

Pray for boldness to open our mouths and declare gospel…

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