Summary: A sermon on Ephesians 4:15 (Some material adapted from Bible.org from Richard Strauss)
Sermon for 9/20/2009
Ephesians 4:15- Speaking the Truth in Love
Jacqueline Bay- My son Zachary, 4, came screaming out of the bathroom to tell me he’d dropped his toothbrush in the toilet. So I fished it out and threw it in the garbage. Zachary stood there thinking for a moment, then ran to my bathroom and came out with my toothbrush. He held it up and said with a little smile, "We better throw this one out too then, ’cause it fell in the toilet a few days ago."
A. One of the most common problem areas in troubled marriages is a lack of communication. This situation is partly a product of our society, for many children grow up in homes where little constructive communication ever takes place. Family togetherness has degenerated to a joint television viewing; anyone who dares to say anything is told to keep quiet because the others cannot hear! The latest trend is for each family member to have his own TV, so that he can watch what he wants without distractions or interruptions. Much family communication is thus destroyed.
B. Another factor which contributes to the absence of family communication is our tendency to prevent our children from expressing their true feelings. We usually consider it more important to act and speak in a socially acceptable manner than to express our actual thoughts. Thus, after a child has made an especially embarrassing remark we may expect to hear his mother reply, “Junior, don’t ever say that again! What will people think?” We should certainly consider the feelings of others, but our undue concern about other people’s opinions encourages Junior to keep his innermost thoughts and feelings to himself, thereby avoiding the pain of being misunderstood and rejected. He thus learns to suppress communication.
C. Soon he enters the competitive world of school, and later of employment. Few people care about his thoughts or feelings; his performance is all that counts. He is accepted by his superiors only as long as be conforms to certain standards and produces a specific quality of work. His job security might be threatened if people could see inside and discover what he really thinks. So he learns to conceal what is there, to present a self-image which impresses people, one which hides his faults and weaknesses.
D. Then the inevitable happens—he finds himself attracted to a person of the opposite sex. He begins to open up, to share his inner feelings. His companion does the same, and it becomes a thrilling experience. At last they have each found someone who really understands, who accepts the other party for what he actually is. They find that they have much in common, that they were “made for each other.” When the preacher asks if they are able to communicate with each other, they say with confidence that this is one of their greatest strengths.
E. As the marriage wears on, however, they have less and less to talk about. The novelty is gone. As the pressures of the daily routine mount, communicating becomes an unpleasant experience. Tensions increase, misunderstandings occur, unkind words are spoken, and feelings are hurt. The disenchantment becomes unbearable. The more each expresses his opinion the more unpleasant the atmosphere becomes, until they revert to concealing their inner thoughts. Instead of growing in their knowledge and understanding of each other, with more and more of their lives shared in the oneness which God planned for them, they drift farther and farther apart.
F. A beautifully happy marriage is only possible when each partner knows how the other feels about the situations and issues that face them both. The same is true in the workplace, in the church or any place where we have relationships. Good relationships demand open lines of communication. We sometimes develop the bad idea that the best alternative to an argument is complete silence. We feel that we deserve a special reward if we bite our tongues in silence while someone else rants and raves. But closing the lines of communication really does not help. There is another alternative to an angry argument. It is sharing in love what is on our hearts! The Bible reveals not only the roadblocks to communication, but the pathways to communication as well! One short phrase in Ephesians 4:15 holds the key to effective communication in the home and in life: “speaking the truth in love.”
Thesis: How do we speak the truth in love?
I. Speaking the truth
A. We really need to focus on the truth. What is truth? Pilate asked the same question in his talk with Jesus Christ. The sad part about it was the truth was right before him. (John 14:6 NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.