Today’s Scripture:  “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.”  Ephesians 4:29

Introduction:

Oh man…I think this is going to really be a good message.  I just saw the opening statement of today’s devotional, and coupled with today’s verse I’ve got a pretty good idea of the direction the Holy Spirit is going to want to go…and I’m already fired up about this message.  So…I’m not going to give some long introduction…today…I believe we’re just going to pray…and get right into today’s message.

Opening Prayer:

Heavenly Father…I come before You to ask You to take me out of Your way, Lord God.  I ask that You would speak this day through Your servant, and that You’d anoint my fingers to write Your words…and as always that You would by Your Holy Spirit lead and guide me into all truth…and that You would give the readers ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts that will receive and respond to Your Word…In Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.

Today’s Message:

So God, you mean I should only say things that are helpful, that build others up, and that benefit anyone within earshot? And that when I say sarcastic things at the expense of someone else or cut someone down that you don’t like that because they’re your children and you love them?

There really is a mouthful that could preach right here…isn’t there?  Let’s just deal with the first question:  I should only say things that are helpful, that build others up, and that benefit anyone within earshot?  I believe I’ll let the writer of this devotional answer that question.

Friends, that is exactly what our Heavenly Father is saying. Gulp.

You know the old saying that if I had a dollar for every time I did or heard such and such that I’d be rich?  I’m going to use it again here to say that if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard yet another old saying:  “If you can’t say nothing good…don’t say nothing at all.” I am sure that I would be set for life to the point that I may not ever need to work a secular job again…LOL.

Come on…Third Day has a song about it. If you click right here on:  Third Day “Nothing At All” you will be taken to a YouTube video of the song I’m referring to…and if you’ve listened to the song multiple times like I have…then you’ve heard the phrase at least a couple hundred times just from listening to this song…and that doesn’t count all the teachers, adults, and others who have said this at some point.

If You Can’t Say Nothing Good…Don’t Say Nothing At All.

Well…how about we just add the video to the message?  That way you don’t have to worry about broken links, or anything like that.  I’ll give you a word of caution, however…the song may cause you to want to rock out a bit…so you may need to listen to it once to get over the desire to rock out…and then another time to listen to the words…and come to the conclusion that this song really does fit in with this message.

Friends…do you not know that being a gossip, talebearer, and slanderer are just as much a sin as murder, adultery, and fornication?  Now I realize that in the world we have a ranking system for sin, but need I remind you that when God looks at sin…all He sees is sin…He doesn’t rank one sin above another…well…accept for the rejection of His Only Begotten Son…Jesus Christ.

In the Bible it says not to gossip 7 times, 6 in Proverbs and once in II Corinthians.  The word “talebearer” appears in the Bible 6 times…5 of them in Proverbs, and one of them in Leviticus.  There are over 100 references to the word “slanders”, and from what I saw at a glance none of them are good or anything that a Christian ought to want to be associated with.

So…this problem with gossip and slander (talebearer is just a fancy way to say gossiper or slanderer) is that it’s laced in pride because it usually stems from a thought sort of like we talked about yesterday…that we’re thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought…and thinking of that person you’re gossiping about a lot lower that we ought.

Yes…friends…I said the dreaded “we” word.  That means I’m in the same boat as you are.  I’m not so much guilty of that anymore, and I can tell you what broke me of it.  When you are the subject of gossip and rumors…suddenly it’s not so much fun anymore.  I used to have so much pride in me that I enjoyed that people were gossiping about me.  That’s before I realized that a man’s reputation is worth far more than gold…and that the things being said about me were completely false…and destructive to my reputation.

In the words of the great song and James one of the disciples and brother of Jesus…we simply have to learn to tame our tongues because another thing we’ve heard that could make us rich from the amount of times we’ve heard it, read it, and had it preached to us is that the power of life and death really is in the tongue.

Do you know one of the greatest pieces of advice ever given to me about ministry besides the one about if I don’t have anything nice to say…then I really need to just shut my pie hole? Again the credit for this goes to Pastor Stephen Robbins who taught during a sermon one time that we…as ministers absolutely have to get past what we see on the outside of the person we’re attempting to minister to…otherwise we won’t be able to help them.

We live in a world that focuses on the negative. The news we watch on TV is almost always filled with stories about bad stuff. I don’t know about you, but that really affects my mind and heart. I find myself fretting over things just because someone told me something that might happen. It causes me to worry and steal trouble from tomorrow which totally overloads the troubles that today already has.

You know, as a recruit in Marine Corps Basic Training my Drill Instructor’s job was to identify weakness and negativity in me…but that was done to strip me of  my pride so that I could be molded into one of the finest human beings on the planet…a United States Marine.  However…as ministers of the Gospel we cannot do that.  We can run around telling people their sins are sending them to hell…or…we can run around telling people the good news that God is not counting their sins against them, and that if they would place their faith and trust in what Jesus did on the Cross that they could and would be placed in right standing with God…and that they would no longer be enemies of God…but joint heirs with Christ…which sound more like what we should do to you?

I used to love the Ray Comfort videos where he’d go to people on the street, and ask them why they thought they were going to heaven.  In theory he’s right because if their answer is anything other than Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior…then chances are they aren’t going to heaven when they die.

One of Ray’s conversations might go something like this:

  • Ray:  “Excuse me sir, but can I ask you a question?
  • Person:  Sure, why not.
  • Ray:  “If you were to die right now at this very moment…do you believe beyond a shadow of doubt you would go to heaven?
  • Person: “Yeah…I think so.”
  • Ray:  “Why do you believe that?”
  • Person: “Well, I’m a pretty good person.”
  • Ray:  “Have you ever told a lie?”
  • Person:  “Of course, who hasn’t?”
  • Ray:  “The Bible calls anyone who lies a liar…so what does that make you?
  • Person:  “I guess that makes me a liar.”
  • Ray:  “Have you ever looked upon a woman with lust in your heart?”
  • Person:  “Yeah”
  • Ray:  “Jesus says that whosoever shall look upon a woman with lust in their heart has already committed adultery with that woman…so what does that make you?”
  • Person:  An Adulterer.
  • Ray:  “Is there someone who you hate?”
  • Person:  “Yeah…this person did such and such to me.”
  • Ray:  “The Bible says that if you so much as have hatred in your heart towards someone you’re guilty of murder…so what does that make you?
  • Person:  “A murderer”.
  • Ray:  “ So…sir…by your own admission you have said that you’re a liar, an adulterer, and a murderer.”

Listen…I understand what Ray is doing, and I used to really like what he did until I started to understand that I’m not a minister of condemnation…I am a minister of reconciliation.  I know that this is a long way to get to the point that as minister’s or even Christian’s in general we can get to a place where we are mean & unloving…and while I understand what Ray was trying to get at…as a minister of reconciliation…I find it’s a lot easier to tell people God loves them, and is not counting their sins against them…and that they could have a right relationship with God by accepting His free gift of salvation by grace through faith in what Jesus did on the Cross.

Here’s another one of those phrases that would make us all rich:  You get more flies with honey than you do vinegar.  I believe that you reach more people for the Kingdom of God telling people God loves them instead of shouting that they’re going to hell if they continue to live like they are and reject Jesus.

I guess I didn’t realize this message was going to go this way…but I guess the Holy Spirit has an idea of what He wants to say…so I’m getting out-of-the-way…

Here’s another thing that Pastor Stephen said a few times about one of most memorable times of leading someone to the Lord doing street missions.  He once lead a man to the Lord who literally had a 40 ounce of beer in one hand, and smoking a joint with the other.  After Pastor Stephen had preached the gospel to this man, and the man received Christ as his Lord and Savior…he then looked at that man with the 40 ounce in one hand…and marijuana joint in the other…and he said to him.  I want you to repeat this after me:  “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”

Come on people.  How many of us (myself included) would walk right past that guy?  How many more of us (myself included) would probably say something that would be considered gossip or slander about that very person?  Can I tell you that this is what turns people off from coming to Jesus?

Listen…if we don’t treat the people we’re trying to lead to the Lord any differently than the world treats them…why in the world would they want what we claim to have?  The Bible says that the world would know Jesus’ disciples by what…LOVE.

Oh my…have we gone on a side journey or what?  I’m liking the flow so I’m staying with it…we’ll get back to the message…but I believe that there are some people reading this message that need to read what the Holy Ghost is saying now.

Sir or Ma’am you’re heart is way too hard and calloused…and instead of ministering what you believe to be the gospel…it is a gospel…but it’s more of a gospel of condemnation.  Listen…we cannot treat people like the world treats them and expect them to want what we have.  Can I tell you that having someone point their finger at me, and tell me that all the things I was doing was sending me to hell didn’t do anything but make me angry…and not want what that person had to offer me.

I’ve been at the other end of someone preaching the ministry of condemnation to me, and I’ve been on the other end of having someone preach the ministry of reconciliation to me…and can I tell you that the person who preached to me with the love of God rather than the hell fire and brimstone God was the one who had success in reaching me for the Lord.

So…I guess the Holy Spirit wants us to think about how we are treating the people that we come into contact with.  He doesn’t want us talking about them behind their backs…He doesn’t want us treating them like the world does…He wants us to treat them how He would treat them…and that’s with the love of God.

Back to the message:

The truth is that most of us love a good story. We want to hear the good news. We like to hear kind things said about us. Why? Because it’s helpful, builds us up and benefits not only us, but also those around us.

I haven’t turned on the news in a long time because it’s almost always the same thing over and over.  This person has died, this horrible car accident, this person was shot, stabbed or arrested, and so much negativity…and maybe at the end of the newscast there might be a “feel good story”…I’m glad they lead off the newscast now with the weather report because that’s really all I care about anymore.  I can get my sports news from the radio or ESPN…because in order to get to the sports on the regular newscast I had to watch all the doom and gloom.

Here’s a challenge for you: Try going one day without saying anything negative, rude, sarcastic or hurtful to anyone or about anyone. At the end of the day, evaluate everything. How you felt, how the people closest to you felt, and how things were different. If you found that the people around you were better off and that you were better off, considering living the rest of your life with an effort to be uplifting to those around you.

As the old adage goes…If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

I believe this is finally a good place to close this message.  On the first day of the “Love Dare” book from the movie “Fireproof” is the challenge to not say anything negative to your spouse…but why not take that challenge a couple of steps further.  Try not to say anything negative, rude, sarcastic, hurtful to or about anyone…in other words…try going an entire day with the mindset that if I don’t have anything nice to say to or about someone…then don’t say anything at all.

I don’t know about you…but I could certainly stand to take this challenge…I hate to admit that I even need to accept a challenge like this, but the truth is…this is one of those areas that I need to work on…and therefore I’m going to be taking this message to heart…and seeking the Lord to help me to take this challenge…and be successful with it…because in the end…the main goal here is to have God’s heart for people…and as a minister and ambassador for Christ…if I hope to be successful in ministry…I need His heart to replace mine…how about you?

Points for Pondering:

  • Do you tend to be more negative or positive with your words?
  • Do you insult people to elevate yourself?

Be A Doer Not Just A Reader:

  • Here’s a challenge for you: Try going one day without saying anything negative, rude, sarcastic or hurtful to anyone or about anyone. At the end of the day, evaluate everything. How you felt, how the people closest to you felt, and how things were different. If you found that the people around you were better off and that you were better off, considering living the rest of your life with an effort to be uplifting to those around you.
  • If this is hitting a little to close for comfort, seek God and ask Him to reveal to you the why behind your hurtful, cutting words.

Conclusion:

I don’t know about you, but my heart has certainly been challenged.  I need messages like this sometimes to remind me that there’s a broken and hurting world out there who needs me to grow up, and stop acting like a child.  “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  1 Corinthians 13:11.  I need to realize that doing things like gossip, being a talebearer, and slandering people is childish…and shows a level of immaturity in my walk with God that I don’t want there…the Bible says that we’re to “may grow up into him in all things” Ephesians 4:15 (NKJV)…and that’s exactly what I want to do…grow up in all things so that I can be effective and successful as an ambassador for Christ…Amen!?!

If you agree…then I would encourage you to pray this closing prayer with me…and make it your prayer too:

Oh Lord, thank You for this message today, and for challenging my heart and dealing with my heart about this very subject.  I want to have every childish way put away from me so that I’m more effective and successful as one of Your representatives.  I most certainly need You to reveal the “why” behind my hurtful, negative words…and I also need You to help me put away this kind of behavior so that I’m not hurting Your sheep…and especially those who don’t know You or Your Son…I pray Lord that You’d continue to give me a “heart transplant” in that You’d transplant my heart for Yours…in Jesus’ name…Amen & Amen.