Essay – Edify, Pray or Just Be Quiet
Please forgive the title as I’m not sure which direction this will go. If anyone hasn’t noticed (you’d have to be on Mars not too), but the storms are increasing and turmoil seems to be an everyday occurrence. Both on a global scale and in our individual lives. Why? Just an observation and not rocket science but the sands in the hour glass are running low for Satan and his crew and they’re working overtime. We know why (2 Tim. 3: 1-7). We do NOT need to help the enemy by our conduct and especially OUR WORDS.
Just for a moment, think about how powerful words can be. “And God said, Let there be light and there was light. – Gen. 1:3. Powerful indeed when spoken by Our Creator. But they can be nearly as commanding when we speak in everyday conversation. Our words can either be a blessing or cursing, used to build up or tear down. It should not come as a surprise then to know the source of the words that apply to each. Do we use the words of the world or do we apply God’s Word to our speech? Do we permit the words of the world to label us or do we use the Word of God to define us? 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14)
When speaking with one another, are we critical and quick to point out faults? Or do we try and edify one another with our speech? We know this isn’t the correct conduct to begin with (Matt. 7:4-5). Do we get sucked into conversations when someone is talking about someone else? Again, bad idea (Proverbs 6:16-19).
This does not mean we can never get angry and express it, “Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil.” – (Ephesians 4:26-27). Avoiding sin when angry is difficult at best, at least for yours truly. Taming the tongue is the most difficult hurdle to overcome (James 3:8).
So how do we edify one another? First to edify someone means (according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary)- “to instruct and improve especially in moral and religious knowledge : uplift; also : enlighten, inform.” Romans 14:19, “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
I’ve highlighted “uplift” as this one term seems to encompass the core. Our speech and conversations to each other should be uplifting and not one of a critical nature. If all we do is mention how someone has short comings or constantly pointing out faults, maybe it’s time to stand naked in front of the mirror (again), and if it doesn’t crack or shatter, look closely and see if you can use a pair of plyers to yank the 2 by 4 out of your own eye. This in itself is a good start as the image staring back probably doesn’t resemble what we truly view ourselves to be anyway. Reality can be a great teacher.
By edifying one another, we in turn edify the church (1 Cor. 14:5, 14:12, Eph. 4:12). Sharpening our communication skills now with “storms” around us and worse ones ahead will take work. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” Knowing then the blessed truth we been given, we know how we can work on improvement. We can either speak the words of the world or speak the Words of Our Lord. There are numerous scriptures instructing us on how we should and should not speak:
Psalms 37:30, “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom.”
Proverbs 12:18, “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
Proverbs 13:3, “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”
Proverbs 21:28, “…an obedient man will speak cautiously.”
Proverbs 22:21, “I therefore teach thee truth, and knowledge good to hear; that thou mayest answer words of truth to them that question thee.”
Proverbs 26:4, “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”
Ecclesiastes 10:12, “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious: but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.”
1 Corinthians 2:6, “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world…”
1 Corinthians 15:33, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.”
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”
Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace…that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4-5, “even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God… For neither at any time used we flattering words.”
By our conduct and the way we speak identifies us as to who we are truly following. 1 John 4:5, “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world.” Matthew 15:18, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” Proverbs 6:2, “Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth.”
We must remember we have an example to follow (John 13:15, 1 Tim. 4:12, 1 Peter 2:21, 5:3). We will know who is following who by their fruits (Matt. 7:16, 7:20). We also must remember there is consequences for failure, Matthew 12:36-37, “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” We have been sanctified and called out of the world. How can anyone know us as a child of God if we are conducting ourselves as one who lives in the world?
John 3:34, “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God.”
If something or someone offends us, we have scripture on how to deal with these circumstances as well (Psalm 119:165, Matt. 11:6, 18:15, Luke 7:23, 1 Cor. 8:13). The best thing we can do for someone is to pray for them. Whatever issue they are going through or whatever fault you perceive “they” have, pray for them (Psalm 109:4, 141:5, Matt. 5:44, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:28, 10:2, 22:32, Acts 8:22, 12:5, Romans 1:9, 2 Cor. 5:20, Eph. 6:18, Col. 1:3, 1 Thes. 5:25, 2 Tim. 1:3, James 5:14-16, 1 Peter 3:12). You may want a forgiveness clause for yourself in there as well.
The best way to deal with speech is to remember the line from the Disney movie Bambi, in which Bambi says, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”. Silence truly can be golden and maybe that’s why God gave us a mouth that can close and ears that don’t (Ecc. 3:7, Amos 5:13, 1 Cor. 14:28) or two ears and one mouth as we are to listen twice as much as we speak. We should spend so much time on growing in the likeness of Christ that we do not have time to be critical of others. If we are truly seeking God’s Word and living it by example, others will see the reflection of Jesus Christ in us. We will be recognized as belonging to God and not the world.