Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Loving Words of Grace are the Christian’s Birthright

Part One

One Birthright (of many) from the New Birth

A ‘birthright’ is a right given to someone by their birth. Because they have been born, they have a right to something. That ‘something’ is theirs. That ‘something’ belongs to them and they can take advantage of it and use it for themselves or others. It is their right. It belongs to them.

A Christian is born again through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Because they have been born this way, they have a right from God to express loving words of grace. This right to express loving words of grace is yours as a Christian. It belongs to you and you can use it for yourself and others. Since words can be spoken and written, and since we speak and write quite often, it would be offensive to God if we ignore (despise, have contempt for) the right He has given to us. Dare we say, “Lord, I am just not motivated by the rights you have given”?

Esau had the birthright of the firstborn, a double portion of his father’s estate. God saw fit to record Esau’s contempt for the birthright that was his. You are probably familiar with the story found in Genesis 25:29-34.

Esau said, “of what use is a birthright to me?” (25:32)

Thus Esau despised his birthright (25:34). A bowl of beans was more important to him.

Esau’s reputation stands low because of what God has said. I know that I will not please God if I ignore the birthright He has given to me. And I know that God has given to me, and all Christians, the right (by new birth) to communicate with loving and gracious words.

Here is what I mean by ‘grace’. Grace is a favorable attitude toward someone regardless of who they are and what they have done. It means the door is open to that someone for a holy relationship, God’s way.

Here is what I mean by ‘love’ (agape). God defines His love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It is my desire to call attention to the way love affects communication through the spoken and written word. Specifically, “Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant (proud) or rude.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5a

I am asserting that God gives all Christians the right to disagree with others through words that are both gracious and loving; even if the disagreement involves sin. May God richly bless this birthright He has given to us; and may we not despise it.

Communicating with Grace

“Let your speech (and writing) always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

Therefore, the vast majority of our words should be gracious, that is, the vast majority of our words should display a favorable attitude toward the other, so that it is clear that a holy relationship is desired. If we use words that hurt, or cast doubt on the other, then they rightly conclude that we are after a victory over them. The conversation becomes a contest where people get hurt, and any chance of a holy relationship can disappear over the distant horizon. When it is needful to say something ‘salty’ (spicy, it can sting) our words should be few. This is how we ought to answer each person.

And as always, it can be a trial of our faith to do what we ought to do when others are out for victory.

Christians should reflect upon whether the world’s way of debate and argument is godless or not. We affect the lives of others with our words more than we affect them any other way.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths (keyboards) but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Jesus prayed in John 17 that His followers should be one, as He and the Father were one. This comes to pass when we refuse to use talk that corrupts the Christian families’ relationships. No one enjoys being publicly embarrassed and humiliated. And ‘building yourself up’ by sending graceless words at your opponent is a sinful interpretation of this passage. It is not a good thing when we finish a disagreement with the other person doubting whether we want a relationship with them at all.

If we must compete with one another, let it be as follows. “Out do one another in showing honor.”      Romans 12:10

While there are times when we should ‘correct’ and even ‘reprove’ one another (2 Timothy 3:16), it does not follow that such times should lead us to use words in an ungodly way. From time to time Christians should evaluate whether they have been practicing worldly (godless) methods of communication. From kindergarten to grave American Christians are surrounded by multitudes of people who drag each other down for personal gain or satisfaction.

Nevertheless, the Christian birthright is to use loving words of grace. Any victory that requires the use of unholy communication is, by definition, outside of the kingdom of God. It is worthwhile for us to ask if unloving words that reject others are the result of walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. 

Communicating in love

“1  If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4  Love is patient and kind; love does not boast; it is not arrogant (proud) 5  or rude.”  1 Corinthians 13:1-5

Verse 1 says that no matter what I say, if it is not in love (patience, kindness, modesty, humility, politeness) then I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. When we are having a conversation with loving words of grace, building one another up, showing honor to one another, and someone starts repeatedly banging a gong or a cymbal, then meaningful conversation is over! We have a major distraction. Impatient words, mean words, boastful words, proud words and rude words immerse loving and gracious words under annoying noise. Christian fellowship is quenched by sin.

Verse 2 and 3 can be accurately abbreviated by saying that no matter what I think (verse 2) or what I do (verse 3), without love I am nothing. It is not unreasonable to conclude that our words are directly related to our thoughts, and communication itself is something we ‘do’.

Therefore, is it fair to say: “No matter what I say, if it is not in a loving way then I am an annoying nothing who gains nothing”?

But the Christian birthright of speaking loving words of grace offers the blessing of us being “Pleasant somebodies who gain something”. I am confident that God sees things this way. It is worthwhile for Christians to consider who it is that they want to please. Choose to please God.

This idea of ‘loving words of grace’ is too idealistic!

I think God disagrees that it is too idealistic. Rather, it is just ‘ideal’.

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Matthew 5:48

“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15, 16

Choosing the virtue of ‘loving words of grace’ is no more impractical than our Lord’s words about perfection and holiness. Indeed, loving words of grace are needed to fulfill perfection and holiness.

The Lord Jesus Christ is our Master and our Savior from sin. If you do not reject Him as your Master, then He will also save you from the wrath that follows the Day of Judgment. And our words are a major part of that Day.

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (hand writes). The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (write), for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37

Loving words of grace will be a normal part of eternal life when sin is removed!

The above statement is easy to agree with, right?

You may have just unwrapped a major insight. Eternal life begins the moment you are born again. Eternal life can be yours right now. Live it now. Sin is the problem. Eternal life being ‘far off’ is not the problem.

“Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” 1 Timothy 5:11, 12

Believe that eternal life is for now. Get rid of the sin. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. Let loving words of grace build others up. It is your right by the new birth. Don’t despise this birthright, treasure it. 

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