Summary: Much of the conflict in our lives comes from "a failure to communicate". But it isn't that we fail to make ourselves clear. The problem is often that our communication is corrupt. Do you know what that means and do you know how to fix that?
OPEN: A woman went into the office of a divorce lawyer and told him she wanted to file for divorce.
“Do you have any grounds!” the judge asked.
“Just two acres,” she said.
“Ma’am you don’t understand. I mean do you have a grudge!”
“No we don’t have a grudge, we park the car in front of the house.”
Frustrated, the lawyer continued, “Let me try again. Does your husband beat you up!”
She replied. “No, I get up before he does.”
“(Sigh) Ok… why do you want a divorce?” the judge asked.
“We just don't seem to be able to communicate.”
APPLY: For the next few weeks we’re looking at conflicts and how to Resolve those conflicts. The first issue we’re going to talk about is the part that communication… or actually how the FAILURE of communication adds to conflict.
Ephesians 4:29 says: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…" The KJV says it a little different: “Let no corrupt COMMUNICATION proceed out of your mouth…” You see, for the Christian, a failure to communicate does NOT mean that we’re not communicating. Instead it means that - too often - we’re using corrupt words when we communicate with people.
What does that word “corrupt” mean? Well, I looked it up. The Greek word for “corrupt” means “rotten, putrefied, not fit to be used, worthless”. In other words: It’s trash talk. You may mean exactly what comes out of your mouth but God is saying He’s NOT all that impressed by what we say sometimes.
Now, what is it that makes communication CORRUPT in God’s eyes? First, it starts with what motivates you. Ephesians tells us: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." (Ephesians 4:31) In other words of corrupt communication that comes out of your mouth is triggered by anger what lies within your heart – anger, hatred and malice. Someone has crossed the line somewhere… and you feel violated. There’s an urge to unload our frustration on ignorant people.
ILLUS: Just to give you an example of how this works – how many of you have ever been to a high school basketball game? Do your recall how the refs are often treated at those games? I remember when I was a preacher at my first congregation, I went to one ball game to encourage the kids at school. On this particular occasion it was apparent that the refs were not making very good calls. And I still remember the voice of someone in the stands calling out:
* Are you blind?
* How can you be so ignorant?
* How much did the other team pay you?
And you know who was saying all those mean and hateful things??? It was ME. I insulted refs. I belittled them. I questioned their intelligence. And then it suddenly occurred to me – I didn’t know any of those men who are out there reffing – but everybody in town knew who I was. I was a minister of the Most High God. I was the preacher at one of the local churches, and I was allowing corrupt, rotten, putrefied trash talk to come out of my mouth.
But I was upset! I was mad! ...
And I was saying things I shouldn’t have. One person put it this way: “Anger opens the mouth and shuts the mind.”
God says this to us in James: “With (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:9-10
Those refs were made in the image of God. And did you realize that even people you don’t like are made in the image of God? Relatives, fellow workers, neighbors, even... (dramatic pause) politicians. In our present political climate it is hard not to get caught up in the slandering of politicians who don’t agree with us.
And God is telling us: Don’t go there! Don’t you do that! Don’t you go cursing those folks! Because (whether you like it or not) they are all made in His likeness and God takes it kind of personal if we trash talk people made in His image.
But now Ephesians 4 is narrowing this down to how we talk to fellow Christians.
ILLUS: One person noted: "By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They’re slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than—a spirit of total love (dramatic pause) Oh, wait—I'm thinking of golden retrievers!”