Summary: The words we use don’t always have the effect we want. But, unfortunately, there are times when the words we use aren’t intended for noble purposes.
During the course of his sermon, a preacher wanted to emphasize the brevity of life. He took a long pause, then said, “Every member of this church is going to die.” But, to his ultimate surprise, a man in the back row responded to this statement with a big smile.
Well, the evangelist was stunned, so he repeated the phrase with even greater volume. This time he noticed that the man crossed his arms and looked even happier than before. Well, this rattled the preacher so much that he literally shouted the words a third time at the top of his lungs, “Every member of this church is going to die!!”
But, in the midst of a loud but serious cry of “Amens” from the congregation, that guy in the back seat just kept beaming from ear to ear. Well, immediately after the service, the evangelist tracked down the man and asked, “Why in the world did you smile so big when I said ‘Every member of this church is going to die?’” The man erupted with a huge smile and said, “Because I’m not a member of this church.”
Unfortunately, the words we use don’t always have the effect we want. Sometimes words meant to spur people on toward action, fall on deaf ears and immobile people. Sometimes the words we use to try and encourage, are interpreted as patronizing or condescending. Sometimes we don’t know what words to use, and we choose ones that end up doing more harm than good.
And, these are mistakes that all of us make - because we’re human. We’re not perfect. Even with the best of intentions, we will still misstep in our choices of words from time to time. But, this morning, we’re not going to be talking about the times that we slip-up, and use the wrong words. We’re not so much concerned with the accidental misunderstandings that are bound to happen between two human-beings trying to communicate.
The title for this morning’s sermon is “The Words of My Mouth” - taken directly from the verses read to us a moment ago from Psalm 19. Let’s look again at these words of David. Verse 14 is obviously our key verse for this morning, but it’s especially important that we notice the context in which this writer refers to the words of our mouths.
Notice that we are in the midst of a section declaring the glory of the laws and commands of the Lord. Look at all the descriptors: first we have “the law of the Lord is perfect” - v. 7. And, as we go down through here we see that they’re described as sure, right, pure, true, to be desired more than gold, and sweeter than honey. So, it’s important for us to notice the link between “the words of my mouth” and “the law of the Lord.” Because the only way our words and thoughts will be pleasing to God is if it’s in accordance with His commands.
So, this morning, I want us to take some time to look at a few places in Scripture that give us direct instruction concerning the things we say.
A. This verse is a pretty general rule concerning the words we use, but it’s a good place for us to begin. Think about the words you use on a day-to-day basis. What kind of attitude is being displayed when you speak to others? Are the words you use on a regular basis corrupting? Or, as one translation puts it, “unwholesome”? When we use our words to put others down, or when we use our words to criticize, or when we use our words out of anger, we aren’t doing ourselves or those around us any service.
It’s especially important that we notice the last half of this verse. Not only does the Apostle Paul instruct us to avoid using words that are “corrupting,” but he says that we should only use words that are going to benefit those who hear them. It would be a good rule of thumb to consider before we speak whether or not what we are about to say is going to “give grace to those who hear.”
There’s an anonymous poem that I read that says:
“When you are disposed to criticize a friend,
Just remember, the beginning’s not the end;
When within, this urge you find,
These three questions bring to mind:
Is it TRUE? Is it NEEDFUL? Is it KIND?”
II. James 3:9-10
A. Now, this chapter in Scripture is a lengthy section concerning the taming of the tongue. But, I especially want us to notice what James says here in these verses. How could we ever expect the words of our mouths to be acceptable to God if we are using them to bring down His Creation?