Summary: Ephesians 4:31 says to “get rid of brawling and slander.”
Three weeks ago we began our current series and Josh talked about getting rid of the self-destructive lies that many of us think about ourselves. When we think that “we’re not good enough” or that “we’re not pretty enough,” or that “we’re not loved or valued or important,” we play right into the Devil’s hand.
The Devil only has evil intentions toward us—he wants to steal from us, kill us and destroy us. And one of the most effective ways he does this is by convincing us to believe life-sucking lies about ourselves. But instead of falling for Satan’s deceptive tactics, we need to allow God’s Word to be drilled into our soul—because Scripture tells us that we matter and that we are important, loved, treasured and valued.
Two weeks ago Brandon talked about getting rid of the anger that can poison our soul. Last week I talked about getting rid of bitterness. God wants us to be free from any root of anger or bitterness that can poison our relationships.
So this is the fourth week in our series “Soul Detox.” In this series we’re taking a careful look at some of the things that we allow into our lives that poison our soul and prevent us from experiencing the full and robust that God offers. Our hope is that as we begin 2017 we can experience a detoxing of our soul…much like the physical detoxing that’s popular today with health experts.
Today we focus on getting rid of lethal language—these are the words that hurt and destroy the people around us. Now, a long time ago I realized that one message would probably not change the world. Real life-change is complicated and takes more time than any one message can accomplish. But the more I’ve thought about today’s message, the more I think it could be a game changer. So I hope you’ll really dial in.
Now, as we consider getting rid of lethal language, I first want to focus on Ephesians 4:31 which says: “get rid of all…brawling and slander.” Brawling in the original language refers to a public outburst that reveals a loss of control. This describes someone who loses control and verbally vomits on the people around him.
Now this not only happens in person, it can also happen in social media. I never cease to be amazed by the hurtful and hateful outbursts that I used to see on Facebook. As a matter of fact, this is one reason I closed down my Facebook account. Too much of what I saw on Facebook was either verbal venting or unseemly self-promotion….and I discovered it was bruising my soul too much. So I decided to close down my account.
Slander is blasphemia in the Greek. We get the English word blasphemy from the same root. Literally it means to talk down. Slander is to impugn someone’s character by the way you talk about them. It’s speaking about someone in a way that lowers the person’s reputation in the eyes of others. Slander usually happens when the person being slandered is not present. Now, slander doesn’t mean that what’s being said is false. In fact, what’s being said may be totally true! But when you slander you speak with the intention of demeaning the person or impugning their reputation.
Both brawling and slander carry the idea of speaking poorly about others. The focus is on putting other people down. Brawling does this as a public outburst. Slander does this more subtly. But our passage in Ephesians says to get rid of this habit. “Get rid of…brawling and slander.” In other words, we’re to get rid of negative-speak. We’re to eliminate demeaning talk about other people.
Now, to do this we need to fill our soul with good and wholesome things. One reason so many of us struggle with negative-speak is because all day long the music we listen to or the things we read fill our soul with negativity. In Luke 6:45 Jesus says, “A good man bring good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” In other words, whatever is inside us will eventually come out. Garbage in—garbage out! What we allow to fill our heart will eventually seep out in our words.
This is why brawling and slander are so closely connected to bitterness, rage and anger. In Ephesians 4:31 Paul writes, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander…” He writes this because if we have bitterness, rage and anger buried in our soul, it will always be evident in how we talk about other people.
Now, lest you think that negative-speak is a minor issue, listen to Jesus in Matthew 15:19. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Don’t miss that. Slander is not a small issue in God’s eyes. Bad-mouthing others is huge. It ranks right up with murder, adultery and theft.