Is Speech Important?
How often do you find yourself dwelling on a passing comment or opinion someone shared? How much time do you spend scrutinizing their words? Did they mean it that way? Are they right, am I really like that? Why did they say that? Are they mad at me? Do they not like me? Did I do something wrong?
I would quickly identify myself as the least qualified person to be offering an opinion on this topic. Frequently labeled a “talker”, the subject of speech often weighs heavy on my heart. Words can build up and oh so quickly destroy. If we put a fraction of the effort used examining others’ words into examining our own heart and speech, imagine how sweet our interactions would be!
So, what is our speech supposed to sound like? What is it we should be talking about? In the book of Ephesians, chapter 4, Paul tells us we are to “speak the truth in love” and later in verse 25 says again, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” This applies to speaking the literal truth - not telling lies - as well as challenging one another and keeping each other accountable. (see Galatians 6:1-2) The Christian walk is a road that is traveled together, and we need to speak truth in to each other’s lives.
I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on this idea as well as scripture I’ve found helpful in correcting and growing my mind and heart:
In 2010 I became a Christian - I believed (and believe now) that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the only way to pay for my sins and I accepted the perfect forgiveness he offers. (see Romans 6:23) Soon after, I found myself surrounded with faithful believers who spoke truth to me and kept my heart in check. This is the way we are commanded to live: in community with other Christians who build us up to grow to be more like Jesus. I can remember so clearly those that first modeled this to me. Are there people who have loved you in this way? Why not let them know? What an encouragement it would be to their souls to hear of the Lord’s faithful work in your life.
The first step to speaking truth is to fill our hearts and our minds with truth. Matthew 12:34b says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (see also Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6) I notice a difference in my life when I selfishly choose to fill my mind with the things of the world instead of the things of God and the Bible. Things that are not inherently evil - music, TV, books, etc. -can so quickly occupy my thoughts and therefore my speech. Keeping in mind the commands and promises of the Bible help us to properly be in this world, but not of it. 1 John 2:17, “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
This is not to say that partaking in all “worldly” activities is sinful. I would be the first to advocate for a movie night or an afternoon spent at an outdoor concert - however we must manage this tension by keeping watch on the things we allow to fill and influence our minds and hearts. As we seek to fill our minds with truth, Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” As we seek to fill our hearts with truth, Psalm 119:9-11, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
So, what now? Do we walk around quoting the Bible from start to finish all day? Kind of. Scripture should be “hidden in our hearts” as the Psalm above says. We should be working to memorize verses and passages full of commands and promises, and growing our knowledge of the Lord. I have found this to be a strong weapon in the war against sin and temptation. Start small and ask a friend to memorize with you!
Additionally, the gospel should be quick on our lips. Why wouldn’t we want to shout from the rooftops the story of God the Son who lived and died and rose from the dead to forgive our sins and to give us hope for eternal life? We should share the gospel abundantly, treat others with love and patience, fill our hearts and our minds with truths from the Bible, and we should be thoughtful and careful in our words. (see James 1:19-25)
Jesus himself was a man of careful words. While we will never achieve perfection and we will never be without sin on this earth, we should continually be striving to follow in his footsteps every day of our lives. The Bible tells us in Romans chapter 8 that, “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (v. 6-8) I encourage you to fight this fight with me, as we seek to follow the commands of the Bible and be a blessing to one another. Christ died for us - undeserving sinners - to show us God’s love. Let us show God’s love to one another by speaking truth.
Scripture to Read: Ephesians 4, Colossians 4, Matthew 12, Philippians 4, James 1, Proverbs 15:1-5, Proverbs 12:22, Psalm 119, Romans 8, Galatians 6:1-2
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*Rachel Gammal is interning at King’s Hill Church and is serving as the Communications Team Leader.