WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS

WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS

“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29 [AMP]

One of the first things you learn in public speaking is to do two things; establish an awareness of the audience and consider the context in which you are speaking.

This means that you need to know exactly who is listening to you, what they do, what their interests are, what needs they have, what concerns them, what will therefore likely peak their interest and what will drive them to sleep.

Then you will also need to consider the occasion in which you are speaking at, what the focus is, what the purpose of the gathering is, what the mood is and what proper decorum to observe. After all, you probably would not want to open the first sitting of Parliament with a quote from Homer Simpson, would you?

And you don’t really have to take a specialist course in public speaking to deal with this. Any language teacher worth his salt will drill these truths into his charge’s heads in preparation for the national spoken language examination; if he has not already done so during the preparation for class-based ‘show and tell’.

But as with many things we learn early in life, we forget these simple truths as we grow up. What’s worse is, as we move up in life, as we become the head of our families, team, departments, businesses and industries, we start to think less of how what we say will impact others and focus on how our words will bring us gratification.

Think about it, have we not seen bosses who will scream at their subordinates, just because they can? Seriously, would their screaming do one bit of good in that situation? Would their harsh words turn that situation around? Would their curt remarks and derogatory statements help their employees do their job better? Would those same words, if used on them, make them better bosses?

It is also interesting that the manner in which Paul describes unwholesome talk includes not only foul, profane and vulgar talk, but also worthless talk. Have you met anyone like that, talks a lot but says little? Politicians and public relations guys do this best. They circumvent the questions by heaping a whole load of words that really point to nothing, much like how your boss is when you go in and ask when all your hard work will earn you that promotion. So from here, we see that the axiom is true, ‘if you have nothing good to say, shut up’.

Now, you may think me a little harsh to make such a comment, but think about it. How would you like it if God responded harshly to this man?

“When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”” Matthew 8:1-2

Hey, remember what God told Moses?

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse.” Numbers 5:1-2

And in truth, He really wasn’t being harsh when He gave this command. Considering the nomadic nature of Israel at the time and the fact that medical services were primitive at best, having a highly infectious individual roaming around in the midst of the general population would be disastrous. Even now we quarantine those with infectious diseases, despite the inroads and advances we have made in medical science. So what more then?

Yet, if Jesus had said to the man, ‘away from me you filthy pig’, which He had every God-given right to, literally, we would still frown upon His words because the context and the audience called for compassion, not judgement. And Jesus didn’t disappoint, did He?

“Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:3

Not only were His words filled with compassion, He touched the man, something no one else would ever dare do; yet something which was perfect for the context and audience present. Jesus’ words and actions certainly were

“…good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29 [AMP]

Then remember how Jesus responded to His disciples questions when they came across the man born blind?

“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” John 9:1-2 [MSG]

He could very well have said, ‘him’; because let’s face it, the man would have sinned at least once in his life. Yet,

“Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” John 9:1-3 [MSG]

Then remember how Jesus responded when faced with the woman caught in adultery?

“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” John 8:3-5

He could have told them to do as they were instructed in the Torah and He would still be without fault. Yet, He said this.

“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” John 8:7

He dared the lot who would judge her, didn’t He. I mean, come on, they had no right to judge her because they were sinners in their own right. Only Jesus had the right to judge. Yet, the Pharisees would, though they could not. But Jesus would not, though He could.

And “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11

Again, His words were

“…good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29 [AMP]

Then finally, remember how Jesus responded to the woman with the issue of blood? Now, remember,

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper, everyone who has a discharge, and whoever becomes defiled by a corpse.” Numbers 5:1-2

She was as unclean as the leper was. Yet, instead of calling out to Jesus as the leper did, instead of being discovered by His disciples as the blind man was, instead of being thrust into His presence like the woman caught in adultery was,

“…she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.”” Matthew 9:21

She was being sneaky about getting the healing. Yet, instead of turning around and rebuking her,

“…Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.” Matthew 9:22

Beloved, what you say matters. Your words hold great power. Indeed,

“A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:20-21

In the same way that you rejoice knowing that Jesus is always compassionate to you, be compassionate to others. Yes, you have every right to reprimand and rebuke. Yes, you have every right to tear down and put in place. Yet, follow in Jesus’ example. Let your words be

“…good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29 [AMP]

And let it be said of you that though you could, you would not.

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