”Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-31 New International Version
How do you determine what is helpful and what is just another opportunity for learning patience? Maybe they can add up to the very same thing. It’s been nearly 16 months since Grace in Process began as a blog. It started out as a way to get me involved in something since I wasn’t being involved in much of anything. By unanimous vote of my family, wife and daughters, I began an adventure in writing. It was universally believed that I was never at a loss for words so therefore I would have plenty to write about! They were trying to be helpful, seeking to make sure I had something to occupy my mind and time.
I had never envisioned myself as a writer. As a matter of fact I have an extreme admiration for authors. How do they come up with all that stuff to put down on paper? Just coming up with a plot leaves me quite baffled! There is all the dialogue to conjure up as the writer considers his hero, the heroine, the antagonists, the good, the bad, and the ugly! Weaving in between the dialogue is the plot of the story, relationships to be developed; all are opportunities for the author to exercise vast imagination! At least I would assume an author needs a hefty imagine to put together a story with the ability to grasp the interest of prospective readers.
It would be amazing to have the gift of storytelling, the ability to move the understanding of people into avenues of thought they have never experienced! C.S. Lewis is one who had that gift, the genius to move generations to see things through paths not traveled by them before, whether in the arena of Christian apologetics, children’s stories, creating allegories with insights into the Christian psyche, or even the retelling of a Greek myth.
What does it mean to “…let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” as we seek to fulfill being in Christ? We might immediately consider the euphemisms and expletives which escape from our mouths from time to time during those high stressor moments we face! I have often found myself entertained by the desire of someone to define what constitutes those inappropriate exclamations of extreme emotion. However, I believe the message we have been given goes far beyond mere swearing. Consider that as humans we have murdered many individuals with our words, taken the lives of those we decide are less desirable, sought to destroy the reputations of those we detest (and even hate) all with our words!
We talk about hating the sin and loving the sinner, but how do you separate the one from the other? And is it even realistic to ask this of mere humanity? Does the fact of not participating in unwholesome talk really make that big a difference? Why is what we do or don’t say considering others even important? Well, it was important to Jesus, important enough He gave us one of the most well known, most memorized, and often quoted relationship guiding principals of all time. It has become known as the Golden Rule, one concept nearly everyone has been exposed too! And yet it becomes the one that is the most difficult to follow through with, although we know it is a concept we long to have exercised for our benefit.
According to Jesus it is important that we practice this in our relationships, to all with whom we come into contact, whether they are family, friends, acquaintances, or those we consider to be our enemies! Inherent in the relationships God develops in us, for us, and through us is the desire to do what is best for others at all times. It’s an easy concept to consider on paper, and so much harder to put into practice in our daily lives. Yet, there it is, one of the most critical elements in the Kingdom of God, the importance of the One. Jesus told His disciples what the atmosphere in Heaven was like when just one chose to receive the Life offered by Jesus.
The amazing thing is this, we have never been left alone in God’s whole dynamic process. God sends the Holy Spirit to seal us until He is finally able to bring us home! Until then we are in an entirely God-run celebration that is also full of incredible opportunities for growth, not necessarily easy or without pain, because with all growth comes some form of pain, but absolutely worth every moment of God’s intervention!
It is definitely not possible without the seal of the Holy Spirit making His life the reality of our lives. It has been revealed when we try to do what only God is able to do life becomes either a circus or a nightmare, or maybe even both! It was shown in the life of Abraham and Sarah: when we try to second guess God, or seek to replace Him, or even be so bold as to laugh at Him, He still fulfills His part of every promise He has made! No matter how much our meddling may cause complications, as in the case of Abraham and Sarah, (their help resulted in millennia of suffering) yet God fulfilled His promises to them. His promises were definitely not contingent on anything they chose to do or not to do. He remained faithful through it all just as He does for us!
Paul gives a shopping list of items which need to be removed from the lives of those who are disciples of Jesus Christ. It becomes a to-do list for the Holy Spirit as He begins to transform lives through the grace that is from God alone. Items on the removal list are these: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, including malice. Not one entry on the inventory can survive in the presence of an almighty, Holy God! In His infinite love for those He created, God is in a process of returning this world and its inhabitants to their original “Specifications”!
What might we have been like if sin and the rebellion had been seen for what they were by our first parents? Only God knows! We do have a vision of what we could have been like in the life of Jesus. Remember, Jesus told His disciples since they had seen Him, they had seen the Father. We were originally created in the image of God, therefore, Jesus reveals our original true self! It is that true self the Father is recreating in us today and every day through the gift of His grace!
That’s why our words, our talk, what we say concerning others matters; it especially reflects who we claim to be following, and more accurately, who we claim has control of our hearts and minds. It’s what the world is waiting to see, lives reflecting the character of the One whose name we claim as our own! When we begin to forgive as Jesus forgives, exercising compassion, kindness, having words which consistently build up, lives being lived in grace, and acknowledging everything happening in our lives comes from our heavenly Father, we will turn the world upside down as did the disciples 2000 years ago! With the anointing of the Holy Spirit comes the power!
It can and will happen as we each surrender to the will of God, to the Grace of God, to the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is defined by God; all as we submit to God’s authority in our lives, recognizing everything accomplished in us, for us, and through us is the work of the Father manifested through the Holy Spirit and becoming our reality.
“Let the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing in Your eyes, O Lord, my Rock and the One Who saves me.” Psalm 19:14 New Life Version