Summary: Exposition of Ephesians 4:29-32 in light of the passage in the covenant that deals with gossip, feuding, and grudges
Text: Eph 4:29-32, Title: When the Spirit Weeps, Date/Place: NRBC, 8/17/08, PM
A. Opening illustration: The fine line between keeping Mackenzie from being a little mama and being a tattletale
B. Background to passage: We now continue in the covenant series with tonight’s message related to a specific problem that we struggle with.
C. Main thought: The Spirit is most grieved and displeased when we fight and behave unbecomingly in the Church of the Living God
A. Gossip (v. 29, 31)
1. In our covenant, we promise “to avoid all tattling.” Paul tells the Ephesians in v. 29 to prohibit “corrupt words” from coming out of our mouths. The word used here means “rotten” or “spoiled” food. This is a broad concept that is further specified in v. 31 with the word that means to slander. So the concept includes a multitude of speech related sins, but specifically those that relate to harming others. The point of Paul’s statement is that as a believer your speech should change. It should be different from others in the world. Remember that God includes gossip with sins such as murder
3. Illustration: Coming out of church, Mrs. Smith asked her husband, "Do you think that Johnson girl is tinting her hair?" "I didn’t even see her," admitted Mr. Smith. "And that dress Mrs. Davis was wearing," continued Mrs. Smith, "Really, don’t tell me you think that’s the proper costume for a mother of two." "I’m afraid I didn’t notice that either," said Mr. Smith. "Oh, for heaven’s sake," snapped Mrs. Smith. "A lot of good it does you to go to church." Only difference between "gossip" and "slander" is one of degrees. Suppose you wanted to kill someone. More than one way to do it. Take a shotgun, walk right up to their face, announce that you’re going to shoot them, and then blow them away. That’s slander. Or, you could take a rifle with a scope. Attach a silencer to it, hide yourself a safe distance away, kill them from long-distance. Never know what hit them. That’s gossip. “We love our insider status more than we love people.”
4. This includes dirty jokes, stories about others (true or untrue), profanity, vulgarity, hateful language, and character slander. The main way that gossip happens at NRBC is by passing along true accounts of other people’s lives to many people. Really, you don’t have to tell everyone you know about all you know. You and I both know that there are certain people that you just can’t tell things to unless you want the whole church to know about it. Ultimately, it is a heart issue. We must begin to kill it in our own hearts first, then stamp it out in the church. You can always say, “Can I quote you on this?” Make people think that you are going to verify every piece of information with their name attached too it. Many times I just want to call people up when I hear that they are mad and sulking about something, and say, “So and So said that you were mad.” And it is usually much less severe than they make it out to be.
B. Feuding (v. 31)
1. The covenant says that we will refrain from “backbiting” which definitely includes gossip, but it also carries along with it a connotation of feuds and factions and divisions. Paul tells the church at Ephesus to put away hatred (bitterness) and fighting (clamor). The word means to take off or stop something that is going on. Paul had no problem stating that this kind of thing goes on in the church, but he was also not content to allow it to remain. He was not convinced this was the way it had to be.
3. Illustration: In 1492, two prominent Irish families, the Ormonds and Kildares (see below), How to turn a disagreement into a feud (see below)
4. There should be no ongoing disputes in the church of the living God. Jesus gives us instructions about how do deal with them. And the reminder tonight is that if there are ongoing disputes among us, it grieves the Spirit and holds back the church. If you are involved in a feud with another church member for any reason, know that it will hurt your walk with Christ, and hold back our church from what God has to say to her. As individuals, you must take whatever steps necessary to resolve conflict on your side, even going the extra mile if necessary. You must realize that your pride is holding you back, and is far less important that the advance of Christ’s church.