#330 – SPEAK FOR GOD (16/4/21)
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. Jesus was confronting a culture in which one’s word was more or less binding depending on what one swore on.
Here in Matthew 23, we have another example of this,
“Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gold of the temple is bound by that oath.’ You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it." (Matthew 23:16-22)
Jesus is condemning the making of oaths that one has weak or no intention of keeping or that one believes is not truly binding. We live in a different culture, but we still have contexts when we take our own words more or less seriously.
You agree to be involved in a wedding as a best man or bridesmaid. You know that your word will be kept no matter what! However, if we agree to do something at work or home, maybe we don’t write it down because we don’t think that a failure to keep our word is of utmost importance. We can certainly bring this attitude into the church. Maybe we don't treat our commitments with the devotion that God would want; maybe we are likely to pull out of the things we say we'll do for less than pressing reasons!
For most of us, our word is more or less binding depending on the context. This should not be! Our boss, our teachers, our friends, our church family should trust our word because, over time, we've shown ourselves to have integrity of speech and action.
RESPONSE - SPEAK ON TARGET
‘All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.’ (Matthew 5: 37)
I’ll Speak on target regarding my commitments: I’ll do what I say I’ll do. I Have good planning systems so I can remember to do the things that you commit to. I won’t do what I’ve said I won’t do. I’ll Speak on target regarding truth: I’ll lovingly challenge people. I’ll lovingly encourage - I’ll look for good things to point out.
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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