For The Truth

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Content of Our Conversations

The following is a letter that I circulated to those in my flock that I could reach via e-mail. The pastoral role is much like that of a gardener; if you want the garden to flourish, it must be weeded. If this important part of care is neglected the garden begins to grow in ways not intended. Our communication is an important part of our witness, and so I offer this so that others might benefit from any help it may provide as we travel this Way.

Dearly beloved,

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Philippians 4:8

It has become clear that the content of our conversations needs to be reviewed. This has not been the first time I have had to address this kind of issue nor will it probably be the last time (though I wish it would be).

First, I will remind you that we are not our own, The Christ bought us with a price (1 Cor 6:19,20), we are now His servants (Col 3:23,24) and ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20) and representatives for Him to the world around us (Ac 1:8). We dare not take this role lightly. Jesus said we were to be salt and light, but also reminded us that salt that has lost its valued principles is worthless (Mt 5:13; Mk 9:50; Lk 14:34,35; Col 4:6).

Now, when we communicate with each other, whether it be written, verbal, or electronic, we must choose the high road. What does this mean? It means we are to model Christ-likeness in our speech as well as our actions (Rom 1:14). I have no doubt that our Lord had a sense of humor, yet it would never have descended to the gutter, nor would it have failed to account for the audience. I cannot imagine Jesus being crass or making light of the many things we desire to justify in our often sinful and fallen speech (Ja 3:7-10). Our God is holy and He calls us to be such (1 Pet 1:16). He calls us out of the world and away from sin (2 Cor 6:15-17). We are to be different from the world, to His glory (Php 1:9-11). Is what you are communicating glorifying to God? Is it proclaiming that He is, and that He is able to save from sin; or is it telling the world around you that God is common, that there is nothing truly special about your relationship with Him, and that what He offers is no different than the business as usual of the world? Does it make light of His holy standards as if He doesn't really expect better of us, as if He winks at sin? Are His standards to be disregarded if we desire? Also, is what you are communicating edifying to your brothers and sisters in Christ (Eph 4:29)? Or is it pulling them down, telling them that they really do not matter, or teaching them sin is okay if you say it with a smile, if it elicits a laugh, or if you say it as a joke? When we act this way, what are we telling the eyes that are watching? Who are those eyes? God for one, but who else? A lost and dying world that questions our message, but also younger Christians, both in age and in time in Christ. What are we teaching them about God, about holiness, edification of the body, and about the implications of our faith for our life (Titus 2:1-8)? Do not take lightly what you say. For when you do, you discredit Christ and you despise those whom you are to edify.

Finally, when we are confronted with errors in our speech, how will we respond (Mt 18:15)? Will we repent, seek forgiveness, and be reconciled with our brothers and sisters, or will we chafe and justify our words? Which will it be? In the handling of these matters we must recognize that none of us have reached perfection. On the contrary, most of us will fail miserably if mustered for an inspection of our holiness, and yet, it is to holiness that we are called and to holiness that we must hold each other, and to holiness that we must yield when confronted. How are we then to deal with one who has fallen into sin? Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. (Gal 6:1) Grace and love is what is needed here. It is by grace that we are able to allow love to cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). While there needs to be grace extended to each other over our shortcomings, we must recognize that that grace is not to be used to justify our sins (Pb 17:15), but it is that which enables us to pass over sins forgiven. So, there is a responsibility within the Community of Christ to not only forgive (Mt 18:21-35), but to seek that forgiveness (Mt 5:23,24), which presupposes the admission of sin. It is far better to be pure of speech and considerate of others. To that end I offer the following chart for spiritual health. It would also be good to read James 3 and reflect on what is said there.

The Word

Keeps my heart on the right path

Pb 4:18-27

Helps guard what I say

Ps 19:7-14

Embeds the truth in me

Ps 119:9-11

Shows us how to love others

Gal 5:14;

Ro 13:10

Directs us to consider what is pure

Php 4:8

In the love of Christ,

Pastor Cal

Acts 20:28


Post a Comment

<< Home