Let’s just pray together before I begin to speak. Our Father, we are grateful that we can call on You and You’re always prepared to listen. And just this evening I want to pray for each person that’s come here tonight. I want to pray in particular that we might open our hearts, and let You speak to us. We do thank You for Your word, and that it is a lamp unto our feet, and that we will be led aright if we follow after it. I pray that You would help us to sense that this is Your word that we’re talking about tonight, and we pray it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Well, this morning I was talking to you about the way you behave. I was saying in the consulting room, and the people that end up in the consulting room, are people that are there because they can’t help but be there. You don’t make an appointment to see a counselor if you can help it. At least usually that’s the case. There is a pattern that I have observed across the years. Certain subjects that people keep bringing up all the time. One of them is the way you behave, and that’s what I was talking about this morning. And another one of the most common subjects that people bring up is the way you talk.
You either build up your own self-respect, or you’re chipping away at your own self respect, and depending a good deal on the way you talk. And so that’s what I want to share with you tonight. Now tomorrow morning I’m going to talk about what goes on underneath your skin. You know, your behavior is observable, and what you say, anybody can hear, but what goes on underneath your skin nobody can really observe for sure. And it’s under your skin that you love, and are filled with joy and peace, or you’re full of hatred and bitterness, and resentment and hostility, but nobody can see that for sure, but you know that it’s there, and so that’s going to be my subject tomorrow morning.
A look at what goes on underneath your skin tomorrow morning and tomorrow evening. Today, taking a look at the way you talk. Let me read you a few Bible verses. Proverbs 15:4 is one of them. Just listen to this, doesn’t this sound good? “A wholesome tongue.” “A wholesome tongue.” Would you describe yourself that way? Somebody that has a wholesome tongue, and around you the conversation is positive and constructive and uplifting? Well, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness therein is a breech of the Spirit.”
Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace and seasoned with salt that you may know how to answer any man.” Wouldn’t it be good if we’d take a little more thought about what we said before we said it, and then we have this as a conscious, deliberate goal that our speak would be always with grace? Here’s a promise in Psalms 34:12, “What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good?”
I guess we all like that to be happening to us, don’t we? Let me ask the question again. “What man is he that desireth life and loveth many days that he may see good?” Well, this is what you do in order to have that kind of a life. You keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile, and you depart from evil and do good, and seek peace, and pursue it.
Well you know there are two kinds of application of words in our lives. There’s the positive side of it. You know with words you can compliment one another, you can praise one another, and words can be comforting, and helpful, and supportive, and complimentary. On the other hand, words can cut, and tear, and hurt. And it’s this hurtful side of the use of words that comes up constantly in the consulting room.
There are a few Bible verses here that will describe what I mean when I talk about this destructive use of words. Psalm 12:2, “They speak falsehood to one another, and with flattering lips do they speak.” Jeremiah 9:8, “The tongue is a deadly arrow, and it speaks deceit, and with the mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly, he sets and ambush for him.” Psalms 29:20, “Do you see a man who is hasty with his words? There is more hope for a fool than there is for him.” Those are important warnings that we need to be careful about.
You know it’s interesting how sometimes we can create ourselves problems by the way we use words. For instance, this man got up in the morning and in a good mood, greeted his wife warmly, and they had a nice friendly breakfast together, and he gives her a warm hug and a kiss before he leaves for work. And then he gets in the garage and puts his key in the switch, and turns it on, and the gas tank is empty. You see, last night his wife took out the car, and he told her that it was all right but she should buy some gasoline, and she didn’t buy any gasoline, and so now the gas tank is almost empty.
“That woman,” he says. There’s nobody in the car, just him. “She never does what I tell her to do.” He’s mumbling and grumbling to himself as he drives to the gas station, and he’s sitting there. You know, isn’t it a wonderful thing that you can drive up to a gas station most anywhere and put gas in your car? That’s not the way he thought about it. He was just griping and grumbling about what happened. Now granted that his wife might have been wrong.
Well he was busy during the day, and so he forgot about it. But on the way home, he began composing a speech that he was going to make when he got home, and finally he pulled into the garage and got out and slammed the door. And his wife says, “Hello.” He says, “Hello.” She says, “What’s the matter?” He says, “Nothing.”
That’s a useless kind of a conversation, isn’t it? Sometimes when you’re in that kind of a mood that’s just about the way you communicate. Well, she kept at him and at him. “What’s wrong? There’s got to be something wrong.” He says, “Nothing.”
Well now, if she had known what he was going to say she probably wouldn’t have kept at him. Now you never quite know what’s shaping up in somebody else's mind, do you?
So finally he says, “Alright, I’ll tell you. Didn’t I tell you when you took the car last night that you should put gasoline in it? Well, I got into the car this morning and turned on the switch and the tank was empty. Now why didn’t you put gasoline in the car? Now you never do what I tell you to do. I can never depend upon you. You are always undependable.” You know all those kind of things. Well, that was true, but that’s what you can do with your tongue.
Pretty soon one of the children came into the room and he said, “You kids get out of here.”
Well you know that man embarrassed himself many, many times with his tongue.
I’m just trying to point out to you that you chip away at your own self respect when you don’t have control of your tongue. The Bible makes it very clear that this kind of talk is not acceptable to the Lord. You know we would be very rejecting of somebody that committed adultery, wouldn’t we? Well, there’s not doubt about what our attitude would be if somebody stole something from you or even swore at you, or if somebody drinks. But I’m trying to point out that the Bible is just as clear that that kind of use of your tongue is unacceptable.
In another home, the phone rang and the teenage daughter answered the phone, and it was a young man on the other end of the phone that her folks didn't approve of. He was inviting her to go to a party in a home that her folks didn’t approve of. So she committed herself to going to that party with this fellow.
So she hung up the phone, and tried to talk her mother and father into letting her go, and they just simply said, “Now you know perfectly well you shouldn’t have done that. You know that we wouldn’t approve of that.”
Then she’s listening, and all of a sudden she says, “I’m sick and tired of being treated that way around here. I can’t go anywhere. All the other kids can go but me. I always have to stay home, and I’m warning you when I get a little older, you’re going to be sorry because I’m going to leave this house and I’m going to do just exactly what I please.” And on and on she went.
Well, it doesn’t take much thought, does it? To recognize that that kind of talk is unacceptable to God. Let me read you a couple of more Bible verses. Proverbs 21:23, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.” Matthew 12:36-37, this is Jesus speaking. Now I suppose if there was anybody in the world we ought to take seriously, it ought to be Jesus. Well listen to what He has to say, “I say to you that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words, you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”
Well, lots of people come around to consulting room, and they feel awful, terrible. They feel guilty, and they feel condemned, and when I start to talk to them, one of the lines of inquiry that I am interested in is how you communicate with other people with your mouth. Sometimes we wonder what could be wrong with me that I feel so terrible, and this could very well be one of the reasons, that you condemn yourself with your own tongue.
Proverbs 18:13, “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.” James 1:26, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle tongue, but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is in vain.”
You know, I can remember back in World War II I was an engineer. We had a boss who was a gruff old guy. He was a self made man, and we had an engineering department that I guess was as big as this room all full of drawing boards. And each one of us had a drawing board, and my boss’ office was like up here where I am standing, and it had a big window in the office. So we could sit at our boards and look at him, and he could sit at his desk and look out at us.
This fellow had a habit that he brought along with him from the production line of chewing tobacco, and in his office a nice rug on the floor like this, and beside his desk was a big round rubber mat sitting on the rug. In the middle of that mat was a highly polished brass spittoon sitting right there, and every once and a while you’d see the boss reach into his back pocket and take out his pouch.
Have you ever watched anybody get ready to chew tobacco? He’d open it up, work the tobacco with his fingers like that, and then he’d take all he could get into those fingers and shove it into his jaw, and then he did it again. And when he got through, he would start. You see, this was a signal. Because when he started loading his jaw, somebody was going to get it. Then he would start to chew, and he’d sit there looking over the engineering department, and he looked something like this.
Then he would spit in the general direction of that spittoon. He seldom hit it, that’s why he had the rubber mat. Ooh I want to tell you, I hated that messy spittoon. But after he spit he would yell, “Brandt!” That’s all it took was one word. Ooh, he’d make me mad. I would be getting along fine until that one word, and I was instantly furious. Well now you don’t tell off your boss, and so I developed the art of looking like that, and I would walk into him and I would say, “Yes sir.”
Now he didn’t know that I felt like hitting him in the teeth, but that’s the way I felt, and I just carried on this friendly conversation. And you know, all of us fellows out there in the engineering department, we just hated him.
One of our favorite subjects of conversation during the lunch period was how we hated him, and one of these days we are going to tell him off, and we just delighted in discussing how one of these days we would tell him off. Now I don’t believe there was anybody in that group that would ever dare do it, but we sure enjoyed talking about it, I’ll tell you. Well, now having said that much, let me read you a Bible verse. Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” How about that?
Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse man spreads strife and a slanderer separates the intimate friends.” In Titus 3:2, “Speak evil of no man, and be no brawlers, but gentle and showing all meekness unto all men.” You see we were violating that around that lunch table, weren’t we?
I would tell myself how that man bothers me. But you know something? After I began to study scripture, it began to dawn on me that he wasn’t bothering me, I was bothering me. One of the reasons why I didn’t like the way I felt was because of the way I talked. Griping, and grumbling, and complaining, and speaking evil of that man. Now he wasn’t a nice man, I’ll admit. But you know, when we study the scriptures, we realize that our behavior, and our conduct, and our words should reflect our devotion to God, and some crabby old fellow isn’t going to determine my spiritual condition. He will just reveal my spiritual condition. Isn’t that right?
So you just pay attention to the way that you conduct yourself, and you will recognize that a lot of your own tension could be of your own creation, simply because you violate some of these Biblical principles that have been given to us.
There’s another area on the negative side of this matter of speech. One time two fellows were going golfing. One of them was a very good par golfer and the other one wasn’t very good, and so the good golfer offered to give the poor golfer some instructions. The poor golfer appreciated that, but after a few holes, he got kind of sick of it. You know, raise your left shoulder, take a little bit more grass with your stroke, swing your club a little further back, and he got this fellow so tied up and conscious of what he was doing that he wasn't enjoying his golf at all. Then the fellow said, “Would you prefer that I don’t give you anymore help?” He said, “Oh no, I appreciate the help. Why it isn’t very often that I get to play with a par golfer. No, no, give me all the help you can.”
Well let me read you a few Bible verses. Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination unto the Lord, but those who deal truthfully, are His delight.” Proverbs 4:24, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious lips from you.” Proverbs 6:16-19, “There are six things that the Lord hates. Yes, seven which are an abomination unto Him. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, and a heart that devises wicked plans, and feet that run rapidly to evil, and a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among the brethren. These are an abomination unto God.” And then one more, Proverbs 26:28, “A lying tongue hates those that it crushes, and a flattering tongue worketh ruin.” How about that?
I guess the Bible is pretty clear about that, isn’t it? And I’m just telling you that over and over again: people who practice using their tongues in the way that I have just described are people who end up in the consulting room, filled with tensions and anxiety, and often wonder, “I can’t imagine what I’m doing wrong.” And often a lot of it has to do with the way you behave, and they way you talk.
Well that’s one side of it. There’s another side. Let me read you a few more Bible verses to illustrate what I mean when I talk about the other side. Proverbs 15:23, “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.” Doesn’t that sound better? Ecclesiastes 10:12-13, “The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious, while the lips of a fool consume him. The beginning of his talking is folly, and the end of it is wicked madness, but the words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious.” Proverbs 25:11, “Like apples of gold and settings of silver, is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 16:13, “Righteous lips are the delight of kings, and he who speaks right is beloved.”
That sounds better, doesn’t it? Proverbs 16:24, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 15:4, “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the Spirit.” And then finally, Proverbs 10:20, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
You know that one of my favorite stories in the Bible has to do with Joseph. You remember in the Old Testament, Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers? He suffered all kinds of tribulations and problems, and yet ended up in charge of distributing food when there was a famine. And it turned out that Joseph’s brothers who sold him into slavery had to come to Egypt in order to get some food. And to their consternation, who was in charge of the program, but their brother Joseph. And they were scared. They had good reason to be. But in the process, their father had died. And so they devised a little note that they sent to Joseph. And this is what it said, “Your father charged before he died saying, thus you shall say to Joseph, please, I beg you, to forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong. Now please forgive the transgressions of the servants of the God of your Father.”
And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” That’s quite a switch from the old days, isn’t it?
But Joseph said to them - and now this is the punch line - Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid, am I in God’s place? And as for you, you made evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. So therefore do not be afraid I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them, and spoke kindly to them.
Isn’t that a great story? You know, lots of people would say, “Boy this is my turn; I’ve been waiting for this day!” What a difference between that and Joseph, who comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Comforting, kindly words, doesn’t that sound good? Oh, I tell you it’s one thing to talk about these kind of words, and it’s another thing to practice it, is it not? But I’m sure that any of us, if we set this as an objective and as a goal, and we made this a prayer, “God put into my heart the desire to please you with my tongue.” So those kindly words backed up with appropriate behavior, my, what a difference that made to his brothers. Maybe what a difference that would make around your house, if you just took a little bit, paid a little bit more attention to how you used your tongue.
I was in a home one day, and a little kid spilled its milk. Well, now that’s a real test for a mother, isn’t it? This mother quietly said, “You put your glass too close to your elbow, didn’t you?” and proceeded to clean up the milk. You know, I was almost disappointed because I was braced for a tirade. “There, you spilled your milk again!” No, no she just quietly, after all I guess she accepted the fact that if she as a mother would have paid a little bit more attention, she would have seen to it that the glass wasn’t that close to the kids elbow. Quiet, comforting words.
I was telling this story once to a lady that picked me up from the airport and took me to a church, and she was saying, “I don’t know how come you are talking that way, because just this morning I was screaming at my child because she spilled her milk.” I said, “Why don’t you try telling the Lord about it, and ask Him to forgive you?”
You know, we can get so preoccupied with the fact that a little child spilled the milk that we forget that we’re as wrong as the child. I suggest that why don’t you ask the Lord to forgive you, and give you a quiet tongue? Well, you know I had a series of meetings in that church, and she came up a couple of days later and she said, “I can’t wait to tell you this. The very afternoon when I dropped you off at church and I went home, and I gave my little daughter some orange juice, and if she didn’t spill it. I said to her, you had that too close to your elbow, didn’t you? Let’s clean it up.”
She said, “My little girl looked at me as though she couldn’t believe it.” And she said the little girl said, “Mommy, do you think that would work if I spilled some milk?”
Well, praise the Lord that He will help us. Now I’m kind of running out of time here a little bit so I want to move along a little. I want to give you some more scripture verses. I hope you’re appreciating the scripture. Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those who hear.” Then there is this verse, Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another unto love and good deeds.”
Now this fellow is telling me a story. That day, a friend of his is griping to him because he had taken his car to a repair shop, and they hadn’t done a very good job at that repair shop, and so the man was griping. As he listened, my friend listened. It occurred to him that he ought to stimulate this fellow as it says. How do you stimulate one another unto love and good deeds?
So as he was listening to this griping, he was asking himself, ”How can I turn this around and stimulate that fellow to think a little differently, and maybe talk a little differently?” So he tried it. He said to his friend, “Don’t you think you’d be a little better off if you got rid of all that anger?” I mean he braced himself for the tirade, and you know what the fellow said? “Hey, you’re right. There’s that garage on the other side of town, and here I am griping on this side of town. I’m not bothering him any, am I? I’m just bothering myself!”
The man said, “You know, I want to thank you for that.”
You know, a good wholesome word and the man was saying to the fellow who had the bum deal from the mechanics shop, remember that God causes His Son to rise on the evil, and the good, and He sends His rain on the righteous, and the unrighteous. You know it would be nice if you would shower a little love upon that lousy mechanic; and the fellow said, “You know, you're right. With the Lord helping me, I’m gonna do that.”
Now I don’t think that that means he should forget about it, and sure he needs to go back and get his car fixed right, but to shower a little love on that lousy mechanic beats chewing him out, and probably would get the job done a little better too, wouldn’t you think?
You know I was thinking about that verse, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another unto love and good deeds.” Isn’t that a good idea? I was invited to speak at a church, and at an annual dinner, and you know how it is in some of these churches when they have their annual dinners. They’ve got all the food spread out, and pass the plates, and you can put all you want on your plate. Well this was a rather portly minister, a little on the heavy side, and I couldn’t believe what he put on his plate. Well that wasn’t so bad, but what amazed me is that he filled that plate up for the second time, just as much as you could put on that plate, and I just somehow, I just couldn’t keep my eyes off that plate. This fellow noticed that I was looking at him, and so he leaned over to me, and he whispered to me and he said, “Perhaps you’ve noticed I’m a compulsive eater.”
I was sitting there thinking to myself, “Now how can I stimulate him unto good deeds?” This occurred to me, and I thought I’d try it out. I said to him, “You know, I believe there’s a better word for it than compulsive.” He said, “What is that?” I said, “Gluttony.”
That startled him, really startled him. “And there’s another word even better than gluttony, and that is intemperance.” Well, you know, that stimulated him, to say the least. He even went home and looked it up in the Greek. You know what the Greek said? Well, it just explained what gluttony is.
And a year later, I get an invitation from this same church to come back for the same banquet. I was surprised. When I got there, that minister was slimmed down. He really was. You know what his wife said to me? That that spoke to his heart. And when he began to make a study of what is gluttony, that he decided that he was not a good example for his people. And there he was all slimmed down!
But what he said to me was, “Henry, you’re heavier than you were a year ago.” I explained to him that, “Yes, I know I am. Just like you invite me to this banquet, I get invited to banquets and I have to go to breakfasts, and I have to go to dinners and luncheons, and it just seems impossible to just watch what you eat under those conditions.”
He said, “Henry, I can give you a good word for that.” And he said, ”The word is gluttony. And there’s another word, and that word is intemperance.”
You know something? That fellow stimulated me. Whenever I head for his part of the country, I just start looking myself over a little bit. And whenever I see him, and whenever he sees me, this has been a positive thing.
You know there’s a lot of difference between challenging a man to reach a little higher, and griping about him to somebody else. Well let me read you a few more Bible verses. You know the Bible talks about pleasant and righteous, and soothing and gentle, and kindly words. It talks about a soft answer, and wholesome, and stimulating, and exhorting, and rebuking words. And here are just a few more Bible verses, and when I finish these, I’ll be finished.
Psalm 19:14, this would be a good one for all of us to commit to memory, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer”. Isn’t that good? Doesn’t that sound good? It’s good to remind ourselves of these verses every once and a while, isn’t it? Listen to this one, Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard O Lord over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 34:12-14, I mentioned this already, “Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile.” How about that?
Well, as I said when I started, I pray that the Lord has illuminated this message in your heart. And now let us just pray together once more as I conclude. Our Heavenly Father, again we do thank you for your word which is a lamp unto our feet. And I do pray as we have gone through this Word, and as You have spoken to each of our hearts, I pray that each of us will do what we need to do, in the light of what we’ve heard. And I do pray that this will be a blessed evening for each one of us, and we’ll ask it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.