A series on Love, Part 3
The second way that Love becomes our livery is through the expression of love with our tongues. Once we are thinking differently about love and what it means to truly love people, it will naturally transform our modes of expressing love. The first and foremost involves the powerful, dangerous and volatile organ of the tongue.
We are made in the image of God and as so we are imitators of God, meaning what we do is a reflection or mimic of what He does. In Genesis we read that God created everything out of nothing by speaking. His words are light, planets, animals, plants; creation itself. God’s word makes, God’s words are reality; the stuff we see, feel, taste and hear.
We don’t create from nothing as God does, our words reshape matter and speaking is a primary function of taking dominion.
Think of words that have lasting, material power. “I now pronounce you man and wife.” “The jury finds you not Guilty.” “Raise your right hand and repeat after me.” “Strike 3, you’re out.” In all of these instances men declare things and alter reality or define reality.
Writing poetry, stories, movie scripts, etc. is the same. Tolkien can create the universe of Middle Earth because he is an image bearer and a maker like God, who creates universes, lives, histories and story through the power of words. In like manner, God destroys with words of cursing and judgment. The Father curses Satan and the ground on man’s behalf at the fall which had permanent affect.
The power of God’s word of woe is also seen in an interesting episode in the Gospels when Jesus curses a fig tree that does not produce fruit and it shrivels and dies instantly. It’s found in Mark 11 and its worth a read. These are just two of the innumerable of examples. God’s word makes and God’s word breaks. Our words have a similar, though finite affect. Again we cannot curse eternally, but we can curse and kill with words.
This is something we all experience and do. Words can undo just as they do. In arguments we can say something so dark and hurtful you can literally kill a relationship with a few syllables. You can falsely accuse or expose sin and kill a person’s reputation in the community. In these instances you are also shaping and defining reality but in a way that is broken and breaks people.
In Proverbs 18:21 we read that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Life and death are in the power of the tongue. If we are speaking unloving words the will kill and we will eat their fruit which is malice, distrust, hate, violence, pain and loneliness. If we are speaking words of love they will bring life and we will eat their fruit; peace, community, faith, trust and joy. Speaking has the power to make, break and connect like no other form of communication.
As part of our livery we have to put love on our lips to express to the world that our Lord is Jesus. There is quite a lot to say about this subject. It requires diligent, prayerful study. Let’s consider these two overarching principles. Love as a way of speaking avoids sin and covers sin. First we are to use speech that fulfills the second greatest commandment; Love, by not sinning with our mouths.
Ephesians 4:29 “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.” verse 31; “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Don’t open your mouth with malice. Don’t speak in anger. Don’t dwell verbally on the bitterness you feel. Don’t slander people, as we covered in the previous point, slander is a form of murder. The positive command is to only use speech that builds up; that encourages sanctification.
Extend the grace you have received from God in gracious speech. Extend the forbearance you’ve received through patient listening and tolerant conversation. Speak kindly by considering others better than yourself. Avoid rudeness. Don’t slander or accuse. Don’t boast. Anyone can tell how patient and longsuffering you are by your speech witnessed over a period of time. Are you quick with a sharp word? Backhanded compliments? Genuine praise?
As part of our livery we have to put love on our lips to express to the world that our Lord is Jesus. Coupled with speech that avoids sin is speech that covers sin. Covering sin comes from forgiveness. Consider Proverbs 17:9 “whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” If you are covering a sin than you are forgiving it or letting love cover it. I do not mean that you are merely ignoring or overlooking sin. I don’t mean a cover up; I mean you have sacrificed the animal and made a covering out of its skins because there has been forgiveness. By not bringing up forgiven sin and not repeating the occurrence to a third party, than you are demonstrating that you have truly forgiven the offense. Love buries sin in an unmarked grave that cannot be visited once its laid to rest. Covering offenses and letting them sleep in peace demonstrates your allegiance to the God of Forgiveness and your dedication to the ministry of reconciliation
Paul David Tripp expresses it perfectly in the Power of Words and the Wonder of God; “There is no escaping the message of scripture: word problems are heart problems. There’s an organic consistency between what is in my heart and what comes out of my mouth….The kingdom that rules your heart will dictate your words. But there is grace –glorious, powerful, enabling, forgiving, and delivering grace – for this struggle. Remember, there is no more present or powerful argument for our daily moment-by-moment need of God’s grace than the words that come out of our mouths. … Each of us needs to be inflamed with love for his kingdom, with hearts filled with gratitude, so that we will speak as agents of his boundless transforming love.”
Christ astounded people with his capacity and expression of love. We are called to imitate and grow up into that capacity and expression of Love. We should all pray that God would give us the courage and ability to better align our mouth and heart with the Word of God. So that what comes out of us reflects the grace we know has been poured into us in Christ Jesus. As part of our livery we have to put love on our lips to express to the world that our Lord is Jesus.