Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gracious Speech

“Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.”
- Proverbs 4:24

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

- Colossians 4:6

“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.”
- James 3:7,8

“It may seem too obvious to say, but Genesis 1 makes it plain that the first words ever spoken were spoken by God. Language is not a human invention to be used in whatever way serves our interests. If God is the first speaker, then language is his creation. This means that our ability to speak was given to us by the Creator and it exists for his glory. Everything we will ever say belongs to him and should be used for his purposes. Words, in short, have a high and holy calling.”
- Tim Lane and Paul Tripp, Relationships, A Mess Worth Making, p. 71

“It is time for many of us to confess that we have not known the way of love. Our words have hindered, not helped, what the Lord is seeking to do. We have been controlled by the passions and desires of the sinful nature and failed to represent Christ’s character. We need to cry out for grace to speak loving words as his ambassadors.”
- Paul Tripp, War of Words, p. 229

“Please forget the words I just blurted out,
It wasn’t me, it was my strange and creeping doubt
It keeps rattling my cage.
And there’s nothing in this world to keep it down.”

- Radiohead, I Can’t

Dear Christ Our Redeemer Family and Friends,

When I think about the things I’ve said over the years my knees get weak. James calls the tongue a restless evil that is full of deadly poison. I can still remember hurtful things I’ve said over forty years ago. A sharp word, a critical judgment conveyed to others, a terse argument, gossip designed to form an opinion – these, and more, are in my collection of spoken sins. My tongue is a restless evil. And there is a sinful satisfaction when the tongue does its work. To refrain from evil speech and to ‘tame’ the tongue is no easy task. It is restless, and the sinful heart is not satisfied until the tongue has its way. When we speak we are simply giving verbal expression to the restless evil already formed in the heart. Our speech reveals our heart and for me this is sobering. By our words we have the power of life and death. When I think about my words I am grateful for the thorough and complete work of Christ’s substitutionary work. Christ’s passive obedience, which is that perfect obedience Jesus rendered to the Father in fulfilling all righteousness, has been credited to my account. His perfect speech, sinless tongue, and unsinning heart have been imputed to me. I no longer bear the just judgment God declares against my sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. And yet, God’s sanctifying work is not yet complete in me. I need reminders to speak graciously. I need my speech, even now, to be redeemed. God, as the first speaker, must redeem my words, and He must do this continually by making my heart new. It will do no good to reform my speech with no change to my heart. I’m praying for God to renew my heart day by day and make it evident by the things I say.

Lord, let my mouth be an evidence of your work taking place in my heart.

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