Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Speech (page 1 of 2)

Don’t You Know What They’re Saying About You?

Gossip is bad. If you disagree, it’s probably because you’ve never been on the receiving end of it. It stings, wounds, and separates close friends.

Scripture testifies to the reality of our experience:

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. (Proverbs 11.13)

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16.28)

So gossip is bad. What can make it go away?

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. (Proverbs 26.20)

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When there’s no whisperer, there is no wood for the fire. The trouble, of course, is that there’s more than just wood necessary for a fire. You need oxygen and a spark. And with gossip, you need not just a whisperer, but someone to whisper to. And that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately.

We all know that we should not participate in gossip (speaking or listening). But it’s hard to stop when it starts! We can talk about godly gossip and various other methods of extinguishing the flame of gossip, but when it comes down to it, in the moment, gossip can be very appealing to our fleshly appetites.
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When I Have Nothing to Say

Sometimes it’s better to say nothing, right? That’s what I’ve heard. My mom told me the same thing your mom told you: If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all. Paul gives us a little more developed version of that: ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.’ (Eph 4.29)

And then there are the Proverbs:

When words are many, transgression is not lacking. (Prov. 10.19)

Or how about this gem:

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Prov. 17.28)

You could also add pretty much the whole third chapter of James to the discussion as well. If you don’t have anything to say, just don’t say anything… right?

Having Nothing Good to Say Is Not Innocent

While it’s clear that the New Testament commands me to watch my words, it also tells me to redeem my words. There are many commands in the New Testament that — if I’m going to obey them — require me to actually have something to say.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3.16; cf. Eph. 5.19)

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Seeking and Speaking Grace

Recovering a Pauline Practice

One of the things we try to build into the rhythm of church life at Grace Fellowship Church is something called ‘Identifying Evidences of Grace.’ By that we mean the practice of deliberately seeking proof of God’s grace at work in those around us and then speaking it to each other.

A practice like this is helpful for so many reasons. But like all things, a practice like this can quickly become rote. It’s easy to forget why we do it, or think we do it just because it’s a good habit, or tradition or something. Some people have even objected at times that this discipline might be forced and unnatural, or drawing too much attention to the person, or even mere flattery, which is never healthy.

Recently, however, I’ve been reading through Paul’s epistles and I’ve been reminded again and again that this practice of identifying evidences of grace is actually something that is biblical. It is something worth defining by the word itself.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed about evidences of grace in Paul’s letters so far:

1. Gifts and Character, Not Personality

Biblical evidences of grace are not, ‘Your smile is so pretty!’ or ‘I love the décor of your home!’ Rather, it is clearly pointing out how believing the gospel has changed someone’s speech, or deepened their knowledge, or enabled them to receive powerful spiritual gifts (1 Cor 1.4-8).

2. Grounded in Truth, Not Flattery

In 1 Thessalonians 2.5, Paul writes, ‘We never came to you with words of flattery.’ What’s so significant about that is that he had just identified evidences of God’s grace in their church (1 Thess 1.2-10). This means that when we’re speaking about God’s grace acting upon and in another person, we’re doing it to build up God, not butter up people.
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Godly Gossip?

What the Bible Says about Gossip

Can gossip ever be godly? Certainly not by the standard definition of the word. Here’s a quick glance at some of the proverbs about gossip:

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. (Proverbs 20:19)
Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered (Proverbs 11:13)
A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)

What is so evil about gossip? It springs from a heart of competition; the gossiper desires people to think more of them than what they think of the person being gossiped about. Gossip is evil because it runs down those who are not present to defend themselves. Rather than speaking what is good for building up, it actually tears down. It gives us reason to think less of the person being talked about.

Could Gossip Be redeemed?

But what if the desire were reversed? And what if the effect was reversed? Could there be a godly form of gossip? Could we find a way to speak of those not present in a way that would honour their God and edify those who hear?

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In a Perfect (Blog) World

Lately, as we’ve been working our way through Genesis 1-2 at church, I’ve been thinking about life in a perfect world. What would it be like to work without ‘thorns and thistles’? What would it be like to be married without conflict? What would it be like to know the physical manifestation of the presence of God as the whole of creation becomes his dwelling place?

Those types of questions can seem be very hard to answer; they seem so far from reality that it’s hard to even imagine.

Here’s something else that’s hard to imagine: What would it be like in a perfectly Christian blog world? To try to conceive of such a thing, I think we’d have to develop a framework from the basics. What is the main business that Christians are to be about in general? If we know that, we can apply it to blogs.
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Some Tips on Actually ‘Going There’

This post is continuing the series I’m working through on redeeming your conversations and making them valuable.

You can read part 1, part 2, and part 3 before reading this, if you’d like some background.

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Some Tips on Actually ‘Going There’

Being convinced you want to redeem your conversations is one thing. Knowing how to actually do it is another thing altogether. How do you ‘go there’? Here are a few tips.

  1. Have something to say. Have you read your Bible this week? What have you read that you could share?
  2. Be open. Don’t ever expect a conversation (or a relationship!) to go deeper than you make it.
  3. Have questions. What kinds of things could you ask that would lead to fruitful spiritual conversation? (see here for some help)
  4. Approach people. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to come serve you. Target someone and engage.
  5. Care. If you don’t actually care it will be pretty obvious. Developing a genuine love for people will go a long way in helping you listen carefully and speak appropriately and wisely.
  6. Aim to serve. Ask yourself, ‘How can I “give grace” to the person I’m talking to?’
  7. Pray. If this is a biblical command and a spiritual reality, then you can’t do it on your own. So before, during, and after your conversations.
  8. Be deliberate. When you know Sunday or Wednesday is coming, prepare!

Learning to Be Intentional… Even If Awkward

This post is continuing the series I’m working through on redeeming your conversations and making them valuable.

You can read part 1 and part 2 before reading this, if you’d like some background.

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Learning to Be Intentional… Even If Awkward
We can learning from Pilgrim’s Progress:

‘Well, neighbour Faithful, let us leave [that topic of conversation], and talk of things that more immediately concern ourselves. Tell me now what you have met with in the Way as you came: For I know you have met with some things, or else it may be writ for a Wonder.’

Or in the Enchanted Land:

‘“Now then, said Christian, to prevent drowziness in this place, let us fall into good discourse.” “With all my heart,” said [Hopeful]. “Where shall we begin?” “Where God began with us…”.’

These are just a few examples. Christian was determined to redeem the time of his journey with conversation that would be spiritually beneficial for all. He was determined enough to take the conversation there, even when no ‘natural’ segue-way presented itself.

Sometimes we get frustrated in our attempts to redeem conversations and talk about spiritual things because we’re always waiting for the perfect opportunity to naturally transition the conversation. In reality, though, if we believe that redeeming conversations is worth it, sometimes we need to just swallow our pride and make the transition, even if it does seem awkward for a moment.

The momentary awkwardness will pass. The blessing is what will last.

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