Take Care In Word
There is no virtue in being a human bulldozer that just walks roughshod over people’s feelings by what you say.
Alright. Thank you very much and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing Alright? Oh, I trust everything is Alright at your house. And even more importantly, I trust everything is Alright in your heart. When I was a boy in Sunday School, we used to sing a song. I haven’t heard it for a long time. “If your heart keeps right, if your heart keeps right, there is a song of gladness in the darkest night. If your heart keeps right, oh, if your heart keeps right, every cloud will wear a rainbow, if your heart keeps right.” Remember that any of you old timers? Well, that’s the background of what I sincerely hope for you, that things are Alright. Not only at your house but in your heart, bless you. May God bless you richly even in these moments that we share from by the Word of God.
We’re in 2 Peter, the second letter that Simon Peter wrote to his friends. And we’re in this second chapter, where he is doing a listing of some very awful things and is in a lot judgment there on sin and the weakness of human nature. And so, as I’ve said to you the last time we got together, I want to face honestly what Peter is saying, and then I want also to contrast what you and I have as real believers on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Last time we got together, we were saying that you and I are making an impact on other people, they do follow us. And the impact is made most effectively not when we are being official and lecturing somebody, but the impact on other people is made when they observe us in our ordinary lifestyle, when we’re not really conscious of being observed. What we really are when we’re relaxed is what makes an impact upon other people.
I never really remembered all the lectures my father gave me. He was a great lecturer. I remember this so clearly. I had to do the cooking. I lived with him in a rented room. They called it “the light housekeeping room,” now they call them “efficiencies.” Well, it was not all that efficient. It had a sink, a cold water sink, and it had a heater, and there was a cupboard there for the dishes and a table, and a bed, and a closet. That was the extent of it. In the winter time we got our heat through the ventilator that came — that let the heat come up through the floor from the coal stove that was just beneath it.
So, that was the kind of hot air heating that we had, and until we turned down the gas heater. And that was one of those affairs that had asbestos, whiskers, all up and down the back of the heater so when you lit the flames all of that asbestos would glow and send out radiant heat and you’d warm the place up. The floor is slanted I remember, slanted toward the door, so that if you spilled anything it ran right straight for the door which was convenient if you spilled enough, it went out.
I had to do the cooking in those days, and high school days especially. And so, after the evening meal, my father would — he would probably pick out a songbook and sing a song or two while I was doing the dishes. And then, like as not he’d say, “Boy, I want to say something to you. I want to tell you something.” And so, you’d go over and I always had to stand. I never sat down when he was lecturing me. And he would tell me, something that was on his mind, either something I had done or failed to do or whatever it was and I had to stand there. Sometimes I would simply pull down the curtains of my mind and think my own thoughts while he was lecturing me. And he would become aware of that by and by and he would say with some exasperation, “If you would only listen to me boy.” Bless him. Well, I don’t remember, I have to tell you honestly, I don’t remember any of those things about which he lectured me, that’s gone.
But I do remember is waking up early, early in the morning, 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning and seeing my father kneeling in the old rocker, by the rocking chair that he had brought with him from the farm and praying for his boy. He didn’t pray out loud, he prayed very softly but praying earnestly he said, “Lord, bless my motherless boy today, and keep him from sin” and so on. I never led on that I was awake but, oh, I never forgot that, that made the impact on me. It sure did.
It is what you are when other people — you don’t think other people are watching you that makes the impression. Well, he says “Many shall follow.” Now, the second thing in that second verse that I wanted just to stop upon for a moment. He says “By reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” A failure on my part tends to give a chance to the enemies of the Gospel to criticize.
David seen with Bathsheba was described by Nathan. He said “By this thing you’ve given an opportunity for the enemies of God to blaspheme. You’ve given a chance for people who hate God to chortle over it.” Well, you and I have lived in the last 2-3 years through some things like, haven’t we? I’ve been on panels, on television and on radio, and different discussions where people would get on my case and they’d say, “What about you Christians and isn’t it terrible?” And so on and so on.” And they would tend to simply dump all of Christian ministry because some people who had been highly visible has stumbled and fallen.
“By reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” And what we’re saying to each other today, and then I think it’s worth pausing here just for a moment to remind ourselves, me that is, and you. That the estimate that people have of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the whole Christian message is closely tied to what they see in our lifestyle day after day, after day. The estimate that people have of the Lord Jesus and the whole body of Christian truth is closely tied to what they see in our lifestyle day after day, “By reason of whom the way of truth.” Jesus said “I am the way.” So we’re talking about our blessed Lord. “Shall be evil spoken of.” I tremble to think that some folly of minds, some failure of mind, some mistake of mind should result in somebody somewhere thinking less of Jesus.
Oh, that shakes me up, just to think about it. And I pray and I’m sure you do too, that our lives may be so completely in His control, that what we are even in our unguarded moments may honor our Lord and bring glory to Him. That’s positive side of that second verse of 2 Peter Chapter 2. Now, notice what he says in verse 3, “Do you see what I’m trying to do, don’t you?” Peter points out the faults and I want to give you the Gospel opposite, the positive as well, so we come out of here with some spiritual mileage, not just looking for spiritual potholes and trying to avoid wrecks.
Verse 3, he says “Through Covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” He says their judgment is not lingering. They are heading for judgment. “Through covetousness they will with feigned words make merchandise of you.” Now, there’s three things he says there, the motivation is “Covetousness.” I want to get something for myself. Second, the implementation of it is insincerity, “feigned words.” Third, the result of it is, manipulation of people, “make merchandise of you.”
Now, these are the things we have to guard against. You see, “covetousness.” Paul says, “It’s idolatry.” “Covetousness which is idolatry,” said he. Anything you want that gets in the place of God is idolatry. So, this is the motivation that Peter is speaking about here. What I want can never become the basis of ministry in the things that are eternal. And you have to tie this down, preachers. It is normal to want your congregation increase, “What can I do that will bring more people into the congregation?”
It’s quite human to want your offerings to increase, “What can I do that will result in people giving more?” It is normal to wish a good image of your work in the public relations they call it, “What can I do that will give me better PR?” But I have to tell you, if anyone or all of those things is your basic motivation, you’re in trouble. Because that is not what God is richly going to bless in the long run. Yes, you may increase your crowd. Yes, you may increase your offerings. Yes, you may better your PR image. Yes, you may be written up in the local Daily Bugle as somebody.
But that isn’t it. And you are heading for some rough times, because the motivation covetousness, “What I want” can never be an adequate motivation for an eternally worthwhile ministry. Then he said “feigned words,” to say the right thing. We get trained in our culture to learn to say the right thing. And I suppose there is some value really in being tactful. The old joke which you know I guess, but we’ll use it for an illustration. You can say, “When I look at you I lose all sense of the passage of time.” You know, that’s beautiful or you can say the same thing, in other words “You are faced with stop the clock.” That’s not so good.
So, there is no virtue in being abrasive unto the guys who are being sincere. There is no virtue in being a human bulldozer that just walks roughshod over people’s feelings by what you say. There is a gentle loving way to say anything, manifesting — Paul says in Ephesians, “For manifesting the truth in love.” Dr. Ironside used to point out that manifesting the truth is one part of simple truthing. He said, “If there were an English word like truthing that would be it.” “Manifesting the truth, speak in love.”
There is a loving way to say anything that needs to be said. “Feigned words” mean words that are insincere, words that are calculated to have a certain effect, words that are used because they may trigger action, “feigned words.” Oh, go back to the Bible statement how forcible are right words. Speaking the truth in love, “Let your speech be always with grace seasoned with salt that you may know how you ought to answer every man.” Speech with love, and speech with grace, and speech God’s glory in mind. There is the opposite of it.
Well, time is gone and we’ll come back to this the next time we get together. Is this any good for you? I hope it is. I wanted to be inspiring and helpful, as well as comforting for hearts that hurt and you pray that that might be so.
Dear Father, today, O may we be speaking the truth in love. May we be an influence for God and for the glory of our Lord Jesus, 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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