Thursday, October 15, 2015

Corrupt Communication

Ephesians chapter four exhorts us to “not let any corrupt communication come from your lips.” But, what exactly does it mean when Paul says “corrupt communication?” Is it determined by the culture? What words did Paul have in mind? Obviously, Paul could not have had English words in mind since the language did not even exist. However, the principle is what we’re dealing with here. You’ll hear many people speak about the fact that words really are just that, words. Remember the saying “sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That’s how many approach this subject.

However, the issue here is not just the words, but what is behind them. In Luke chapter six, Jesus speaks about the fact that, whatever comes out of a person’s mouth is a reflection of what is in his heart (Luke 6:45). So, we cannot claim that whatever we say is “just words.” They do matter. What’s most interesting about this is that, those same people who will engage in constant foul and corrupt language will then turn around and try to instruct us on how not to be offensive in what we say to and about people. Consistency is indeed a jewel!

So what exactly did Paul have in mind? It is essential to always, always remember the context of the passage that we’re examining. Many false doctrines have been generated because someone, somewhere read a passage of scripture, did not keep it in context and went out and formulated a whole new doctrine. The context of Ephesians four is the explanation by Paul of what he had discussed during the first three chapters of that book. In essence, he was giving the Ephesians instructions on how to lead the life that he had described in theological terms in the first three chapters.

Following that line of thought then, Paul’s instructions deal with the holiness that the people of God must demonstrate and live by.  One of the greatest dangers that we encounter is the fact that all too often a fair minded person cannot tell the difference between us and the world. Now, don’t get me wrong, at a basic level we are alike. We are all sinners and depraved. But once we have been cleansed by the Spirit and grace of God, we have to be different. Otherwise, our witness will be of no effect. And one of the ways in which the world can easily discern whether we’re of it or of heaven is in the way we speak.

Non-believers are all too ready to point to Christians they believe are not living the Christian life and use them as examples of the supposed fact that Christianity is false. It is bad enough when they do so concerning areas in which we all struggle. But when they point to something as easily controlled as the way we speak, it becomes even more distressing. We have a responsibility to present ourselves to the world as lights and salt (Matthew 5:16). Although we should not be obsessed with what others say about us, neither should we simply discard it with the wave of a hand. What the world sees in us, they see in Christ. If what they see, or hear, in us is corruption that is what they are going to think of our God. Let’s give them reason to think well of our Master!

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