#327 – THE NINETH COMMAND (13/4/21)
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we see that Jesus wants to teach us how to use our words. Previously, we have seen that Jesus taught,
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them…Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
Christians are to ‘fulfil’, ‘teach’ and ‘practice’ what the Old Testament teaches. This has great bearing on our use of words. The Ninth Commandment teaches,
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.” (Exodus 20:16)
We are never to slander people. We must avoid all gossip. Of course, everyone has failed beyond all that we know and deserve God’s wrath! However, so have you! We don’t have the right to spread other’s failures for our own strangely satisfying pleasure. Proverbs has much to say on this,
‘Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down…The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.’ (Proverbs 26:20, 22)
The way that we use words reveals our understanding of the gospel. If we are embittered and speak about how people have failed, it reveals that we are not enjoying God’s grace and forgiveness as we should.
Of course, there are occasions when we seek advice on how to deal with the sin of another, but that is purposeful and has godly motives.
We must avoid being ‘graffiti artists’ who indelibly stain the character of others.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - SPEAK ON TARGET
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have an occasion that you'd like to share, when said something that you wish you had not?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. This week we see that Jesus wants to teach us how to use our words.
Words are very powerful. Words lead to right or wrong thinking. Words lead to salvation or damnation. Words lead to health or corruption. Words lead to love or division...
Earlier in this series, we saw that Christians are ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matt. 5:13) and ‘the light of the world’ (Matt. 5:14). This has a massive bearing on how we use words. Jesus taught,
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.’ (Matthew 5:33-37)
Jesus was confronting a culture in which one’s word was more or less binding depending on what one swore on; If, to use a more contemporary example, I swear on my mother’s life then I really must do what I say!
Speak on target
The word ‘sin’ (Hamartia) means to miss the target - like an archer missing the target. To sin is to fail to hit the target of God’s will. In our use of words, we are to aim at the target in three regards:
i) Truth - Complete truthfulness is the target of our words. We don’t lie or exaggerate. We do what we say we’ll do etc.
ii) Alignment - Complete alignment with God’s truth is the target. We no longer just give our opinion or what pops into our heads unfiltered. We endeavour to speak what is according to God’s will revealed in scripture. Therefore, we seek to study God’s word.
iii) Love - words for the good of others is the target. Is what we’re about to say or write going to help this person or this situation?
Listen in order to speak
We’ve all failed with our words. We’ve failed to speak when we should have spoken. We’ve spoken when we should not have spoken. We’ve failed to listen and make people feel valued. We’ve lied. We’ve failed to keep our commitments. If you are truly sorrowful. If you repent of your sin. If you will listen, you will hear God say with complete honesty, “You are forgiven”!
With people hasty words can never be forgotten they can only be forgiven. With God, your words are forgotten and forgiven. They are nailed to the cross. The indelible stains have been washed away.
Those who keep hearing this - hearing the gospel - will be the kinds of people that speak on target!
1. Did God speak to you about anything in particular from Sunday's message or the blogs this week?
2. When and why are you tempted to be untruthful?
3. Do you have any practical, recent examples of adjusting your views and speech in alignment with God's word?
4. Our speech is to be loving - for the benefit of others. How does 'hearing' the gospel regularly help one to do this?
Serving, Investing and inviting
The way that we speak is a vital way of serving, investing and inviting. Let's take a moment to share and pray about this.
1) Do you take a genuine interest in others by asking good questions?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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