Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
If we want to be people of integrity, we must consider our words as well as our actions. First, we should guard our language. Think before we speak. “Let your words be few” for “many words mark the speech of a fool.” They are “meaningless.” These instructions are directed to people entering the house of God, but they are good advice for any time and any place. “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart, to utter anything before God.” First, when we commune with God, we should listen. Perhaps he will address the thing we wanted to talk over with him. Doesn’t he already know what’s in our hearts? Listening first in an attitude of humility and gratitude is the ideal posture for prayer. And listening and thinking before speaking is critical among us humans as well: how many relationships have been ruined by a thoughtless word?
Then, we should make our words count. Whether we are speaking to God or to a person, we must consider what we are about to say. Is it truthful? Does it come from a place of authenticity? Many a complaint is disguised as a cry for help. We should examine our words before we speak, ensuring that our motives are pure and our intentions are honorable. When we confess to God, are we truly repentant? When we communicate with other people, do we think about how our words sound to them? How do they sound to God, who hears everything? There’s an old saying: Lord, make my words tender and gracious today, for tomorrow I may have to eat them. We should strive to make our words accurate and truthful but also kind and considerate, and we should avoid unnecessary or pointless talk.
When we say we will do something, do we follow through? Whether we make a promise to God or to another person, do we think about whether we can keep that promise before we speak? Or are we flippant about it, tossing out promises like candy at a parade? Our word should be sturdier than candy and much longer lasting, because a broken promise is not quickly forgotten. Trust is hard earned but easily lost. Our God is a trustworthy God: he always keeps his promises. Even if we don’t use the word promise, we should never say we will do something we have no intentions of doing. Our world is full of people who lie and deceive, but we followers of Jesus are to be honest and honorable.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” As followers of Jesus, we should reject the standards of popular culture that encourage sarcasm, bitterness, deception, and lies. Otherwise, what distinguishes us from everybody else? We are to offer God’s love to people desperate for what the world cannot give them: hope. Through salvation, he promises us eternal life and freedom from sin, and God always keeps his promises. It’s up to us to live in such a way that those who don’t believe or don’t understand or haven’t heard about this promise might be receptive to a conversation about Jesus and his gift of life and freedom. And when that opportunity comes, God will give us the right words to say, if we are listening.
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us for worship this Sunday morning at 9:30 (Children’s Worship and nursery care available). Discovery Hour is on summer break and will return soon!