Godly Conversation

Vivian and I gave a seminar yesterday at MBF on the topic of Godly Conversation. We were a bit late when we got there (well, nearly 30 minutes late) because the printer at home is playing up. Anyway, here is a simple outline on the talk+seminar.


Godly Conversation

What is Conversation?

  • Definition: "the spoken exchange of thoughts, opinions and feelings".
    • spoken: something that is coming out from your mouth. So generally speaking, writing is probably not part of "conversation". However, as the technology enhances the way people interact with each other, sometimes things like "instant messenger" might be categorised as having a conversation.
    • exchange: conversation usually involves more than one person. The flow of words is also "bi-directional" instead of "uni-directional".
    • thoughts, opinions and feelings:
      • These are probably the problem for conversations today. There is nothing wrong with the spoken words, and there is nothing wrong with two way communications. However, when you express your thoughts, opinions and feelings, you are expressing your own self to the others, and it sometimes might yield undesirable effect.

The Human Perspective

  • They represent you.
    • Speech is like a mirror, and talking is a way of revealing one self. You are what you think, and at the same time, you are also what you say. Your words present and express your character, and it also reveals what is inside you.
    • People often judge you by what you say. That is why when people want to have a good public image, they will watch out what they speak and the manner of their speech, to ensure the best of themselve is being presented. This is quite self-centred and superficial really!
  • They affect others.
    • Your words can be used to encourage others. You want to be encouraged and so do the others. You want to be complimented, and so do the others....
    • Word could also be used to tear down as well. When was the last time you were hurt by someon's speech? or When was the last time you were hurt when someone did not keep his word? False promises? Yes, No and half truth?
      • Tongue is like fire in James 3:6, and while it might not damage your body, it might burn other people's heart.
    • Speech is also like a sword, it could divide people. Your description of another person can allow a 3rd party to understand that person better, and at the same time also reveals how you, as a character, react towards a particular person.
  • Conclusion: we must be aware of the effect of our speech. How it represents me and how it may influences others (both positively and negatively).
  • Our analysis so far has been focusing on what human thinks and how human perceives. What about from God's perspective?

The Godly Perspective

  • How God's perspective is different from our own perspective?
    • Obviously it is around God, and the existance of God adds into the picture.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    • "Revilers" - those who slander others, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. God actually dislike those who slander others, those who say bad things behind people's back. And according to the passage, God dislikes them to the point that they will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • Question: have you ever slandered someone in your life? You might say that you have never committed adultery, nor worshipped idols, nor stole or robbed someone else. But what about being greedy? What about your manner of speech? Will that delist you from the kingdom of God?
      • Unfortunately, we find most people can never be in the kingdom of God, because they have at least failed one of the test above. Like how 1 Corinthians 6:11 described, "And such were some of you"
  • Matthew 12:36-37
    • God will actually judge what has been said, which represents what is in your heart. "Careless words" or "idle words" in WEB - words that produce no good effect, and is not calculated to produce any. Useless and thoughtless words.
    • In the context of the passage (Matthew 12:33-37) note that even though the verse says what you say will be judged, but it is actually what you think that will be judged. In Romans 2:16, God judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, as he knows all your secrets, whether you say it out or not.
  • Conclusion: God is serious about our conversation. He is serious about what we are putting on our lips. He is serious to a point that our conversation will become the subject of judgement, and failing to have godly speech can delist you from the kingdom of God! But it is our heart that he is judging, as our speech merely reflects what our heart thinks.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:11
    • Some Corinthians are like that as well. Paul is identifying the Corinthians with us - they were sinful and would not inherit the kingdom of God, and we too are sinful and should not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • But...
      • washed - we are no longer dirty. We are now clean in front of God.
      • santified - idea of regeneration. We are now advancing, and become more and more like Christ.
      • justified - we have now been declared righteous. We are no longer guilty on the final judgement day.
  • Conclusion: We are guilty against God, and God will judge us and condemn us. However, we should no longer fear that as by God's grace, he has got a solution for us. If you are in Christ Jesus, you will be saved as you have been cleansed. He has also given us the holy spirit to help us to be more like him.
  • Colossians 3:1-4
    • What status does it give to those who have been washed, santified and justified by Christ? You have now been raised with Christ, and you are together with him at the right hand of God.
      • You will always give a second thought before you say anything if you are seated next to the chairman of China! How careful you should be with your speech if you are sitting next to the chairman of the whole universe?
      • 1 Peter 2:9. At the same time, we are raised as a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people for God's possession. We are now the royal of the royals, and we should be more careful with what we say.
    • 3:3 - you have died and your life is hidden with Christ. Our sinful nature has been nailed to the cross when Jesus was crucified 2000 years ago, and whatever condemns us has also been put to death at that point in time. But if we are dead, then why is Paul mentioning our life again on the same verse? Galatians 2:20. Christ has provided us a new life, and it is "hid", i.e. Secured and guarded by God.
      • Romans 6:2.
  • Conclusion: Our transformation, stated also in Romans 12:1-2, demands a change in ourselves. We should set our minds on things that are above not on things that are on earth. We should not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but instead transform our mind. It will affect our speech and how we say things as well. We should make our speech "godly" speech/conversation, instead of earthly conversation.

Biblical Guidance on Godly Speech

So, knowing that we have been cleaned by the blood of Jesus and has been given a new start in Him. Where does it lead us? What is God's new way of conversation (hence Godly conversation) for us? Let us turn to the Bible to seek his guidance and wisdom.

  • Ephesians 4:15 -Speaking the truth in love. The manner and the content are both important.
  • Ephesians 4:25-26 - Be truthful in what we say and do not be anger lest it will be shown in our word.
  • Ephesians 4:29 - What we say should encourage one another, suitable, so that the hearer may be edified.
  • Ephesians 4:31-32 - Be other-person centred and be committed to each other with respect and love.
  • Ephesians 5:4 - Be thankful always and watch out for our language used
  • Ephesians 5:18-21 - Be filled with the Spirit, saying hymns and psalms to each other and giving thanks to God.
  • Colossians 3:13 - Forgiving one another as Christ forgive us.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 - Rejoyce always and do not complaint
  • 2 Timothy 2:23-25a - Do not quarrel, patient and correct each other in gentleness
  • James 1:19 - Quick to hear, slow to speak and angry
  • James 5:12 - Let your yes be yes and your no be no. No Chinese polished politeness
  • Proverbs 10:11 - Live verse violence
  • Proverbs 11:13 - Slander reveals secrets, trustworthy person keeps secrets
  • Proverbs 12:18 - Rash words is like a sword thrusts, but well timed word and wise word brings healing
  • Proverbs 12:22 - Faithful word is pleasing to God, lying word is detestable to God
  • Proverbs 16:24 - Gracious words are health to the body
  • Proverbs 18:2 - Fools shows no understanding or knowledge, what they say is an expression of opinion
  • Proverbs 20:15 - Thoughtful words shows knowledge
  • Proverbs 21:19 - Do not be a quarrelsome wife
  • Proverbs 27:15 - Quarrelling wife is like a dripping tap

Summarise:

  1. Thoughful words and speaking the truth in love
  2. Be truthful in what we say and do not lie
  3. Do not gossip, say what is appropriate for the occasion
  4. Gentle speech but not coarse speech
  5. Be forgiving and not slander or quarrel
  6. Always be thankful and do not complain

In fact the Bible has a lot to say about Godly conversation. It is not just the content of your conversation that is important, the way you say, the word you use, the motivation behind and people's reaction to what you says are all related and they are equally important.

Limited Ability

  • We need understand that human has limited ability to deal with these changes.
  • James 3:8 - no one can tame the tongue. Not even one person can control fully what he/she says or thinks. What does that imply? We have limited ability in controlling the manner we talk. Even though we have great instructions from God that taught us what to say and how to say, unfortunately the Bible also realise that by our own ability, no one can fully control the tongue.
    • Romans 7:18-19; 22-24 - Paul talked about the same struggle here.

Where is Help?

  • Titus 3:4-6 - Ask God to transform you by His Holy Spirit
  • It is God by his great mercy that saved us. He has given us the wash of regeneration and spirit of renewal, to allow us to become one new person. How did he do that? By Jesus Christ's death on the cross, his blood washed us so we are now clean and can be declared guiltless.

Reflection for the Night

I actually did not prepared all these. Vivian actually prepared for the Biblical Guidance part and the case study afterwards. We did not have enough time to discuss all the case study, and we ended up just discussing one. Vivian put quite a lot of thoughts on the case studies, but the feedback we have received was not that good.

The case study we all discussed was the case study 4 on boy/girl conversation. The study is on this guy John called up this girl Mary during StuVac at 12:00am to discuss some exam questions, and after the 2 hours talk, John has praised how wonderful Mary is, and promised to take her out for a meal sometime. But he did not fulfil the promise after the exams. We wrote this case study for a reason - guy/girl conversation is always problematic, and a guy calling up a girl at mid night for 2 hours, and then promised a meal - it gotta mean something to the girls (aren't they supposed to be sensitive about these things). However, most people there simply ignored that part and then blamed on John being unfaithful to his promise. Ironicly last night it was around 70% girls and 30% guys in the seminar. So at the end it did not achieve what Vivian and I tried to bring out, and I think it was a bit disappointing. Maybe next time we should separate guys and girls to have different discussion groups and see whether it will have better effect.

And we brought this topic out because from our angle, some people need to watch out the way they speak and some other people should not take some conversation too seriously. Won't name the names here, but I might write more about it later...