Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Does Your Epistle Impart Grace?

He said that we need to remember that our words are like precious stones—we are to use them to enrich others.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our casual communication—be it spoken, written, emailed, faceBooked, or even blogged—so often is unloving, although we may be completely unaware of it.

Each of us are living epistles, “read” by all who God brings into our lives. That reach has grown  considerably due to the social network. Blogging, Tweeting, and FaceBooking have created an atmosphere of thinking out loud in sound bytes with very little filtering. A natural erosion has taken place affecting our language and communication as a result.

I remember a teaching from a very wise elderly man (the late Richard Wurmbrand) on the power of our words. He was teaching on the Hebrew word, sefer, which is the word for book. It is also the root word for literature and library, etc. Interestingly, it is the Hebrew root sapir, from which sapphire is also derived. He said that we need to remember that our words are like precious stones—we are to use them to enrich others.

When we speak or write, we form images in others' minds. Do we consider what types of images we are placing in others’ minds? Are we edifying and enriching them? Building them up spiritually? Or are we creating improper or unsavory images, and causing them to stumble?

Consider a very common (yet coarse) expression: “I was so p---ed off!” This is one of my pet peeves—I really can’t stand this phrase. As an artist and a very visual person, it never fails to create a very vivid (and disgusting) image in my mind.

No wonder the Word instructs us: Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. —Ephesians 4:20

Meditate on that for a moment... We are to impart GRACE to others with our words!
How often do we do this?

Proverbs 12:18 tells us that careless words wound, yet circumspect speech brings healing: There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (NASB)

We women can be especially careless in this area. How do speak around men (who are not our husbands)? Do we put images in their minds that may cause them to stumble? Do we talk about our bodies, causing them to think about our bodies—calling attention to ourselves in ways that create temptation? Even in seemingly harmless humor, we often carelessly create tension for the men (and their wives) around us. This is not loving. Nor is it Godly.

Unfortunately, it seems that many of us are lost in our own selfish little world—either oblivious or uncaring about the affect we have on others. We may be very active in spiritual pursuits and profess a deep love for the Lord. However, the “epistle” others read or hear sends out an entirely different message.

Perhaps we need to go back to the “Philippians 4 Test” that our children were taught in Sunday school to help us break some unfortunate habits and develop discernment and sensitivity that may have dulled over the years.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
—Philippians 4:8

Blessings and love in Messiah,
Sarah Lynn