Jesus moment

Living is Christ – Part 11

This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “Living is Christ”.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

We are in a series called Living is Christ. Last week we talked about moving from having to giving. This week I want to talk about using our words to bring life.

Scripture Reading

Ephesians 4:22-32 (NIV)
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. 29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
29 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.

Let’s look at an encounter Jesus has where He demonstrates using words to bring life.

John 3:1-2 (NIV)
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Nicodemus represented the best in the nation. He was a teacher, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council. I think this encounter is interesting. Nicodemus, this person of stature in the community, sneaks in at night, so no one will see him. He opens up the conversation with some pretty flowery compliments towards Jesus, but the sneaking in at night and the compliments don’t seem to fit very well to me.

Let me just make a quick point here. Life is filled with challenging people and interesting encounters. This is not a bad thing, not a threat, and can be used by God if we can get our thinking right. God defines who you are. If you don’t know this, you will let other people try and define you, manipulate you, or even intimidate you. Not just who you are but who’s you are. You are a child of the King. You are a follower of Jesus. You are a disciple who is broken, but who is trying to live by doing the next right thing. When you are settled in who you are in Him, you are much more likely to be less defensive and less “what about me” in an encounter. It is not about having to prove you are right, which will allow you to think about how God might actually be able to use the encounter or interaction and allow you to use your words to bring life. Jesus saw this encounter with Nicodemus as an opportunity to speak the truth in love.

John 3:3-6 (NIV)
3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!” 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

Jesus is trying to tell a deeply religious person of very important stature that what he has is not enough. Unless we repent and come to Christ we can’t access the Kingdom of God. It is not about our religious works, our political power, our position in society, it is about His work of grace.

A big note, Nicodemus came to Jesus. He saw something in Jesus that drew him to ask these questions. In order to get to speak the truth, you have to be trying to live by doing the next right thing. In this instance, Jesus is trying to love Nicodemus into the Kingdom by getting him to see that he will not make it in his own righteousness.

John 3:16-17 (NIV)
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

In these well known verses we see how the conversation continues. Jesus was offering hope for life to Nicodemus, by sharing with him the good news. Jesus was sharing the concept of grace to a religious person who had only ever known the law. Even though the Old Testament speaks about grace, the religious community at the time had lost the concept of God’s grace and love.

We don’t need to point the finger, we need to offer encouragement and hope because of the grace and mercy and love of God. God has made a way for everyone to be in relationship with Him forever in Christ. Our part is to share this hope. It is good news, not bad news. If your sharing of the gospel sounds like bad news, something isn’t right. If it is all about rules, regulations, and rituals, it is not encouraging. It is discouraging, and it drives people away from God.

I believe Jesus encounter with Nicodemus resulted in a changed life for the Kingdom of God. At the crucifixion, when almost everyone else had run away, there was Nicodemus, publicly taking care of the body of Jesus. No longer hiding under the cove of darkness.

John 19:39-40 (NIV)
39 He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. 40 Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

1. The power of words

James 3:7-10 (NIV)
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

We can use our words to build people up, and we can use our words to tear people down. The power of words is an amazing thing. The childhood school yard saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie. Hurtful words can hurt a person for their entire lives. Many people have lived their entire lives under the oppression of words spoken to them that just weren’t true. Instead of being built up, they were told they were no good, would never amount to anything, that they were stupid.

We need to be aware of the power of our words and we need to use them to build up, to encourage, to bless. We need to learn to use our Words the way God does.

2. Think before you speak

Remember who you are in Christ. You don’t have to prove you are right. You don’t need to be defensive.

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NIV)
27 A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. 28 Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
29 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.

Before you speak, ask yourself these quick questions:

a.) Is what I am saying true?

If it is not true, don’t say it. If you are not sure if it is true, don’t say it. And don’t pass it along in an email. Do you know that not everything that comes to you in an email is true? Try truth or fiction dot com.

b.) Is what I am saying helpful?

Are you speaking to build the person you are talking to up? Does it really need to be said? Please don’t ever start a sentence with, “I don’t mean to be rude, but”

c.) Is what I am saying loving?

Are your words loving? Are they motivated by love for the person you are talking too? If there is another motivation, anger, frustration, vengeance, bite your tongue.

What we need to be focusing on is

3. Speak words of life

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 12:25 (NIV)
25 An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Our words should bring life to people. Our words should encourage, inspire, calm, and sometimes challenge the people we are talking to. We are to speak the truth in love, always tempering our words with kindness and compassion, with grace and mercy. Even when it is necessary to try and correct someone, it should be done in an encouraging way, pointing up strengths and encouraging people to bring out their best. This week, I would encourage you to try and listen to yourself. How are you using your words? To bring life, to encourage, to inspire, or to gossip, discourage, and deflate?


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