Before You Speak

The combination of Christian vocabulary is God's grace and common sense. God's grace and common sense, put together, give you an effective vocabulary.

Scripture: Colossians 4:5


Alright thank you very much. And hello dear radio friend how in the world are you? You doin’ alright?

Yes, it’s your friend Dr Cook. I’m glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times when we can share from God’s Word.

We’re doing our little wrap up review of the book of Colossians and, uh, we just now moved into chapter four.

He says, in verse five, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without.” That means towards unsaved people. “Redeeming the time.”

Had you ever thought, dear friend, that goofing off the job has an effect upon people that you would like to win for Christ?

If you do less than your best on the job, if you do less than your best on the job it does have an adverse effect so far as your testimony for Jesus Christ is concerned.

So he says, “Remember, a wise Christian testimony makes good use of time. Now, I can’t tell you why that is so, except on the face of it, it appears to be so. But Paul, under the guidance of the blessed Holy Spirit, tells us that an effective Christian testimony toward unsaved people oftentimes is connected with the way we use our time.

I think it would be a good idea for many of us to keep track for a few days of everything that we did throughout the day and how much time it took us.
For many years I’ve used a, a, uh, desk notebook that’s called a Daytimer, that’s put out by an outfit by that same name. I think they’re in Allentown, PA if I’m not mistaken.

But, uh, that has the day broken up into fifteen minute segments, so that if you’re a lawyer, or a professional person, or whatever you can cost your day out in terms of what you did for that particular fifteen minutes and if you’re gonna bill a client, obviously, you have the proof of the amount of time you spent with the client.

Now, uh, I’m not advocating that for everybody but sometimes it’s a very good idea just to check up and see how you are using your time.

What is the average length, for instance, of your telephone conversations. You don’t have to talk forever to get a point across. Have you found that out? You can save yourself some money on your telephone bill and you can save a lot of time if, when you’re gonna call up some body, you think ahead of time and say, “What am I gonna say to this person. What do I really want to talk about?”

Now I realize there’s an exception in mothers and daughters and fathers and sons. We just, we just call up and we talk because we get lonesome for each other and we wanna talk to each other. I realize that. (Laughs)

I was, I was criticizing my dear wife of fifty years and more about the length of her conversation with our three daughters. She looked at me right in the eye and she said, “Dearie, let me have one sin, will you?”
(Hearty laughing)

Oh, yes.

But what I’m talking about, however, is a lifestyle of making the best use possible of the time God gives you. Every one of us has as much time as everybody else; twenty-four hours every day. Uh, there’s a little book-I think it’s out of print now so don’t ask me where you can get it, but I got it many years ago. It’s called “How to Live On Twenty-four Hours A Day” and the man points out the fact that we do waste a lot of time. He said, “Instead of reading the paper in the morning save it until night after supper. In the morning,” he said, “Think about something, uh, something constructive. Lay out your day. Spend the extra minutes you do have in thinking about something constructive.” He says if you have to walk to the train, if you’re a commuter, on the way to the train think about what you’re going to do.

Lay the day out. He said if you have a, a substantial length time to, uh, to ride on the train to get to work, he says use that time to do something constructive.

He said a half hour morning and night spent on any given subject will give you the equivalent of [a] PhD in that subject in twelve years.

I can’t prove that the man was right but it does sound reasonable.
A half hour morning and night, that’s an hour a day in other words, on the train that you spend on any given subject will make you the equivalent of Doctor of Philosophy in that subject.

Ken Taylor, our dear friend who has given us the Living Bible, started that process, I have been told, when he was commuting between Wheaton and Chicago on the Chicago Northwestern railroad. And uh, because he felt the need of something that was simple and compelling from the scriptures, for use in his own growing family, he began to make this paraphrase which millions of people now have read with great profit; The Living Bible.

But he started in his commute on the train from Wheaton to Chicago. At least that’s what the people told me on a number of occasions and I believe it to be true.

In any case, you can use those moments and the way you use your time is, in itself, a testimony to the kind of Christian you are. “Redeeming the time,” said he. Buying up the opportunity is the paraphrase that we use to explain that, that uh, expression. “Buying up the opportunity because”, he said in another place, “…the days are evil.”

You won’t have this chance again. You can’t go back and do it over if you miss it. And so, he says buy up the opportunity.

Another thing that makes your testimony effective is what you say. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt. The combination of Christian vocabulary is God’s grace and common sense. God’s grace and common sense, put together, give you an effective vocabulary. “…that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Make a habit of praying momentarily before you answer a question or before you engage in a conversation, even before you answer the phone. You don’t know who’s at the other end of the wire anyway, do you? Maybe somebody to bless you or maybe somebody to unbless you, as we say.

So, uh, whisper a prayer before you open your mouth. “Be sure brain is in gear before engaging mouth,” somebody has said.

Okay, he said, “Let your speech be always with grace.” God’s grace in your voice. God’s grace on your lips. God’s grace in your vocabulary. There are numbers of ways to say things. Some wag said, years ago as I recall in my presence, he said, “You can say “When I look at you I lose all sense of the passage of time.” Now, that’s beautiful isn’t it? You could also say, “Your face would stop a clock!” And that is not really so impressive. There are numbers of ways to say things. Let God lead you to say things with grace.

There is a loving, kind, gracious way to say anything that has to be said.
By the way, if you’re a supervisor and you have to correct somebody don’t come raging in and say, “Why in the world did you that? How stupid can you get?” Instead say, “Now the next time we wanna do it this way.” Manage by expectation, by objectives, by expectation. You get along so much better and use gracious words, not the words that grate on you.

My favorite deacon in Philadelphia days when we were just starting out, John Houtecamp, used to say, “Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them and some people just grate on you.” Well, I guess that’s true isn’t it? You and I don’t have to be that third kind of person. Our words can be gracious, loving, thoughtful, helpful words.

And he says, “then, “he says, “if your speech is with grace,” which means you depend on your blessed Lord for every syllable, and if it’s seasoned with salt which means you use the common sense God gave you, you’ll know how to answer every man.

People are important. The last thing that we’ll say about this is that people and their ministries are important. He mentions Tychicus , “…a beloved brother, a faithful minister and a fellow servant.” He mentions Onesimus, the runaway slave who was converted to Christ and was sent back to his master a saved, born from above individual.

Aristarchus and Mark; Mark was the quitter who got rehabilitated, thanks to Barnabas and his big heart. Justus, who belonged to the Jewish faith who had now found freedom in his risen Messiah. Epaphras, who was, “…one of you, “ he says, “…always laboring fervently for you in prayers.” His claim to fame was that he was a prayer warrior. And Demas, the one who left because he “…loved this present world.” Luke, the beloved physician, who took his, his doctors skills and brought them into focus within the framework of a missionary ministry.

Nymphas, who held a church in his own house. Archippas, who had a God-given ministry but who was in danger of neglecting it and needed to fill it full. People, people are important.

Stop to think of the fact that God has put you in a world surrounded by certain kinds of people, not all of whom are pleasant and not all of whom appreciate you; the wonderful person you are. But, there they are. Remember that they’re important. They’re important to God, they’re important to you. And their help is needed and their criticisms are needed and guidance and suggestions are needed. And all of the combined impact of their lives is part of God’s combined plan to make something out of you, beloved.

Now, some of you are working for a boss whom you think is just impossible. Remember, God allowed you to be there for His glory. Ask Him for His strength and guidance and blessing in that impossible situation.

Some of you are in domestic home situations that are very painful. Nothing seems to be going right. Everything you say and do is taken the wrong way and you’re just about to give up. Look heavenward, beloved, and trust your blessed Lord. People are part of what God is using to do a work in your life. Let Him do it today. As you interact with other human beings, would you whisper a prayer and say, “Oh God, make this contact to be a blessing.”

When you enter into a room full of people, whisper a prayer before you open your mouth to say hello to anybody; just whisper a prayer and say, “Lord, just make me a blessing to this crowd.” Oh, that’s been such a help to me. Ordinarily, I’m embarrassed to come into new groups of people and all of that; I’d just as soon sit in the corner and sulk. (laughs) But oh, what a blessing it is just to whisper a prayer and say, “Oh God I don’t know these folk but make me be a blessing to somebody.”

And there, with poise and with the sense of God’s touch on you, you can go into a new situation and interact with people on His wonderful, gracious level. You try it for yourself.

Dear Father, today, we just trust Thee to make us the kind of people whose testimony is real, whose life is believable because Jesus is running it. In His name I pray, amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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