Sacrificial Speech

“It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

In Michele’s post What is Sacrifice?? she mentioned that people give up all kinds of things as a sacrifice to God during Lent.  We can give up anything that prevents us from directing our life toward God.  So here’s an idea:  consider fasting from careless or uncaring talk.  The book of James says,

“If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is in vain.” James 1:26

In other words, failing to control our tongue is very important.  It can make our other sacrifices worthless.  We all know that words can hurt, yet we still say damaging things and then try to excuse them:  “I was only telling the truth,” “I just didn’t think,” or “he (or she) shouldn’t be so sensitive.”  Keep in mind that gossip and foolish talk are included in Biblical lists of sinful behavior (2 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 5:4) right along with things we consider much worse.  We can’t excuse sins of the tongue, any more than we can excuse theft or murder.

In point of fact, we are not just called to abstain from cruel words, but to speak positively as often as possible.  In a recent sermon on the Ten Commandments, our pastor directed us to Martin Luther’s explanation of false witness in the Small Catechism:

“We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander or defame our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.

Notice this explanation goes beyond saying, “if you can’t say something good, be quiet.”  It goes further than telling us not to lie about others.  It says we should speak kindly about everyone and truly believe the best of them.  We could boil it down to these words from Ephesians:

“Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

So during the Lenten season, let’s not just give up foolish speech, let’s replace those words with others that encourage.  Say, “thank you,”  “I care about you,”  I appreciate your hard work,”  or “how may I help?”  There are many opportunities to affirm someone every day.

 

4 thoughts on “Sacrificial Speech

  1. I love this post! It is so easy in conversation with others to fall into the ‘trap’ of gossiping or speaking badly of other people. How different would our emotional outlook be if we made a true effort to speak kindly of all people and to always think the best of others. Also, I can think of many days when the simple kind words of another uplifted my spirit. For example, if I was having a rough day of work, and my boss came in and mentioned what a good job I was doing, what a difference that made to how I felt about the day! It is our Christian duty to try to do this for others as often as possible. Thanks for the reminder :))

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    • Kate, Thanks for the words of encouragement on the post. You made my day! Nice to know someone is out there reading them.

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  2. I’m out here reading them also. You all have wise and encouraging things to say, things we all know but always need to be reminded of. Thank you for making me smile today.

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