Let No Corrupting Talk Come Out of Your Mouths

Ephesians 4:29
April 14, 2019
Abraham Hong

 

There is an old children’s rhyme that goes like this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” These words can be quite noble. But they can also be quite naive.

And the reason why is simple. Words matter. Words can hurt. And sometimes they can hurt far more than sticks and stones.

Teenagers commit suicide after being bullied at school. Freshmen year friends become sophomore year enemies after words that cannot be taken back. One of the most devastating words in a marriage is “I want a divorce.” And years of verbal abuse from a parent can send a child down a life-long path of darkness.

Dear church, as we love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in response to his love and his salvation for us, let us seriously consider this morning the words that come out of our mouths. Because words matter to our God. And because if you want to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, then you will need to talk in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Today’s sermon is divided into three parts. In the first part, we’ll look at what we must put off. We are to put off talk that corrupts. In the second part, we’ll look at what we must put on. We are to put on talk that builds people up and gives people grace. And finally in the third part, we’ll look at why we must do all these things and we’ll close with thoughts of wisdom and application.

First, our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths. Corrupting talk is talk that leads to rottenness and decay in people and in relationships. Corrupting is talk that causes disunity and decline in the body of Christ.

And our King does not allow it.

Do you make fun of other brothers and sisters in Christ with coarse joking or bad sarcasm at their expense? Jesus does not find your words to be funny. Your King does not laugh with you. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.

Do you speak harshly or abusively to your spouse or dishonorably or recklessly to your parents? Jesus does not find your words to be loving. Your King does not side with you in your family matters. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.

Do you engage in gossip or slander or manipulation or dishonest speech? Jesus does not find your words to be constructive. Your King does not play your game. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.

Do you speak proudly or criticize and complain about others? Jesus does not find your words to be humble. Your King does not see things from your perspective. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.

Second, our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to speak words that build up and give grace. Words that build up are words that foster unity and growth in the body of Christ (Acts 9:31; Ephesians 4:12-16; 1 Peter 2:4-5). Words that give grace are words that bring encouragement and comfort to people and relationships (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).

And our King wants this.

Do you want to speak words of forgiveness and reconciliation to one another? Remember that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He does not count our sins against us. Let us speak words that build up and give grace.

Do you want to be more kind and understanding and thoughtful with your words? Remember that Jesus wept. He knows everything about us. Let us speak words that build up and give grace.

Do you want your words to be more selfless and more for the good of others? Remember that Jesus emptied himself and took the form of a servant. He cared more about us than his own glory. Let us speak words that build up and give grace.

Do you want to speak words of holiness and righteousness and love? Remember that Jesus is holy and loving. He lived a perfect life for us and he died a perfect death for us. Let us speak words that build up and give grace.

Brothers and sisters, this is not easy. But when we are challenged by the law of the Lord, let us be motivated by the gospel of the Lord.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). And how did God speak to us? What words did he use toward us? He did not use words of corruption. He did not use words of judgment and destruction. He did not use words that tear down. Instead, he used words that build up. Or to be more precise, words that make a new creation. God has spoken to us in Christ Jesus, and he has spoken tenderly to us. His written word fits the occasion. And his Living Word gives grace to those who hear him. This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is more. The speech of a sinner is wrong because the heart of a sinner is wrong (Matthew 15:18). So God changed our hearts. He removed our old hearts of stone and he gave us new hearts of flesh. And now we can have new and obedient words because now we have new and obedient hearts. You may not think that you can tame your own tongue. But I want you to know that God can tame your tongue. And God is. And God will. The Holy Spirit is doing his gracious work of sanctification in your life. It is not easy to put off corrupting talk and put on talk that is good for building up and talk that gives grace to those who hear. But you are conforming more and more to the image of Christ. Your words will change. This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, brothers and sisters, let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

I would like to now offer a few important thoughts and applications for today’s text.

First, I ask you to realize that Jesus is Lord over your words. You can no longer just say whatever you want to say in your life. You are to speak in a way that Jesus wants you to speak. He has kingship and authority over your words. It is time to start talking differently. Jesus is Lord over your words.

Second, I ask you to remember that you are royalty. You are a holy priesthood. You are heirs of the kingdom of God. Therefore, your words must be classy, noble, gracious and in good taste. It is time to start talking differently. You are royalty.

Third, whenever you talk, I ask you to think as you talk. Be self-aware of what you are saying with your words. And be self-aware of what you are doing with your words. In the heat of conversation, in real time, as words fly, think to yourself, “Will this corrupt? Will this build up and give grace? What am I doing right now?” This is hard. Too often, all we think about when we talk is how we feel and what we want to say. Sadly, we rarely think about what the other person is saying and what the other person needs from us. But  Proverbs 15:28 says this: The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer…. So slow things down. Listen to what the other person is saying. Be thoughtful and intentional with your words. It’s time to start talking differently. Think as you talk.

Fourth, I ask you to practice a lot. Think of every conversation as a chance to work on this command from Ephesians 4:29. You may fail to obey God. You may fail often. But there is a lot of truth to the idea that practice makes perfect. Every conversation is an opportunity to get better at building people up and giving grace to others with your words. It’s time to start talking differently. Practice a lot.

Fifth, I ask you to consider the people that you’re closest to and most comfortable with. Our guard is usually down the most when we are with people that we are most close and comfortable with. When relationships are most secure, words can be most carefree and careless. It’s time to start talking differently. Consider the people you’re closest to and most comfortable with.

Sixth, I ask you to put worldliness to death. The world wants us to think that corrupting talk is cool. People around us might create pressure for us to conform to the ways of the world. It’s gotten so bad that now your ability to insult others is deemed an indicator of intelligence. Making fun of people is now considered to be a good social skill. Moreover, we hear and see corrupting talk all around us. Be careful what you consume out there in the world. It’s time to start talking differently. Put worldliness to death.

Seventh, I ask us to reform the Asian-American church culture and experience. Sadly, one widespread aspect of the Asian-American church has been unwholesome talk, sarcasm, and bullying. Most of us have grown up in this context and have only known this context, so we may not be aware of the possibility that our talk can be quite unhealthy. It’s time to start talking differently. Let’s reform the Asian-American church culture and experience.

Eighth and lastly, I ask you to understand that this comes down to loving others. Last week we learned about how the aim of our work is for the help of others. Today we are learning that our words should be for the sake of others. That’s love. That’s a dying to self. When we no longer speak for the sake of ourselves. But rather, we speak for the sake of others. It’s time to start talking differently. This comes down to loving others.

End


Summary of Sermon

Words matter to our God. And walking in a manner worthy of the gospel involves talking in a manner worthy of the gospel.

First, our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths. Corrupting talk leads to rottenness and decay in people and in relationships. It causes disunity and decline in the body of Christ.

Corrupting talk includes: making fun of others, speaking harshly or abusively to your spouse or dishonorably or recklessly to your parents, engaging in gossip, and speaking proudly or criticizing and complaining about others.

Second, our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to speak words that build up and give grace. Such words foster unity and growth in the body of Christ. Such words bring encouragement and comfort to people and relationships.

This kind of talk includes: speaking words of forgiveness and reconciliation to one another, being more kind, understanding and thoughtful with our words, being more selfless and more for the good of others, and speaking words of holiness, righteousness and love.

This is not easy. But let us consider the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us consider how Jesus has spoken to us. And let us consider how God has changed our hearts and how he is sanctifying us now.

Let us remember that Jesus is Lord over our words and that we are royalty. Let us think as we talk and practice this a lot. Let us consider how we speak to people closest to us. Let us not speak as the world likes to speak. Let us reform the Asian-American church experience. And let us remember that all of this comes down to love.

Questions for Discussion & Sharing

Words matter. And they matter to God. In what ways have you personally come to realize the significance and impact of your own words?

Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to speak words that build up and give grace. In what ways are you striving to obey the Lord in regard to this command?

Our Lord Jesus Christ commands us to let no corrupting talk come out of our mouths. In what ways are you struggling to obey the Lord in regard to this command?

How does the gospel of Jesus Christ personally compel you to honor Him with your words?

What are some specific improvements, commitments or practices that you would like to work on with regard to your words?