Communication #1

Faith Church April 11, 1992 Ephesians 4:

- sometimes its easier to laugh where we hurt (1st 4 trans)

- the good news is - the Bible has a lot to say about this
  subject

- Eph. 4
   - the reason we talk a lot about this chapter is because
     it contains some of the most important principles of
     growth in the entire NT.
   - our desire is that each person from our church has a
     "working knowledge" of the principles of this passage

- 1st three chapters - great doctrinal truths about our
  position in Christ and the great spiritual blessings
  associated with that truth
- Paul talks about our:
   1) adoption as sons
   2) sealing of the Holy Spirit
   3) inheritance of the saints
   4) exceeding greatness of his power
   5) great mercy and grace

- then, Paul makes a critical transition in 4:1 - "I,
    therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you
    walk worthy of the vocation to which you were called"

- 11-16 - talks about the place of the local church in that
     process (develop)

- v. 17 - picks up the same theme (that he started in v. 1)
     - don't walk like the Gentiles

     - that’s what we're trying to prevent as a church
        - traveled with a missionaries' son from South Africa
          (Marc Blackwell) who had visited a number of church
          youth groups here in the states - "Christian
          teenagers here don't seem to be much different than
          the unsaved teenagers...
              - listen to the same music
              - wear the same clothes
              - do the same things...no measurable
                  difference"

    - I wonder, to what degree that describes many
      fundamental churches, to what degree if any it
      describes us?
    - Paul is concerned about that and you and I are as well

- from there, moves into 3 critical verses for believers
  to understand - verses 22-24
- NT principle for change and growth - put off/ put on

    - prin. of replacement
    - note primary difference between saved man and unsaved
        man

    - therefore, must be putting off feeling, sensual,
      lustful habits of thinking and behaving and replacing
      them with principle, truth, Bible habits of thinking
      and behaving

    - so we're not just talking about changing by quitting
    - When's a liar no longer a liar?
    - thief no longer a thief?
    - (illus - rock music)

- with those thoughts in mind - Paul moves into a critical
  area where change needs to take place - in our
  communication

- INPUT - why do you think, of all the areas Paul could have
    discussed, he illustrates the "put off/put on" principle
    with the subject of communication?  (hit on how the Bible
    is sufficient--how God knows us and where we're most
    prone to fail)

- read 25

I. Be Honest

    - Paul says the first place we need to grow in our
      communication is honesty

    A. Not just put off lying, but speak the truth.

        1. Greek imperative, a command, "you speak"

        2. people can't read our minds
           - Paul said, "For who among men knows the thought
              of a man except the spirit of man, which is in
              him?" (I Cor. 2:11)

           - that's why this point is so important. "Non-
             verbal" communication is helpful but can never
             be conclusive.  We need to be alert to smiles,
             frowns, voice tones, body language, notes, pats,
             hugs, helpfulness, attentiveness, etc.  But that
             cannot be and is not conclusive.
           - Facts can only really be known, and problems
             dealt with, through openness and honesty.

           - if that’s not done--if judgments are made
             without proper communication//
               - the person making the judgment is wrong
                  (I Cor. 13:4-8)
               - the person who failed to communicate is
                  wrong (James 4:17)

        3. honesty is more than not lying.

             - it is a commitment to speak at the right time
                and in the right ways.
             - you and I can all tell of stories from
               churches, families, or marriages that are
               riddled with problems and bitterness and
               resentment because people did not speak when
               they should have spoken.
             - we ought to view communication as a gift from
               God but also as an obligation to speak at the
               right times and in the right ways.

    B. Speak the truth (cf. 4:15)

        1. problems cannot be solved unless they're first
            expressed.

            - maybe we need to ask a more fundamental
              question and that is - do you want to solve
              problems and improve relationships?
            - Some folks seem to "thrive on a fight." When
              there's nothing to fight about, they'll
              manufacture something!
            - we'll talk in a few minutes about "how" to
              speak the truth from some other verses, but
              right now we're asking about whether or not
              you're really committed to getting problems
              solved and whether you're really committed to
              "speaking the truth" in order to get those
               problems solved.

    C. Dishonesty is out!

        - now please don't get defensive with me

        - many folks hear that point and say - how dare you
          tell me to be honest - I may not be much, but I've
          always been honest, my daddy taught me...


        Examples of dishonesty

           1) outright deceit

               - obviously we know this one, but what about
                 100% words?
                    - always - you always burn my toast
                    - never - you never take me out to eat

            2) conflict between body language and tones and
                the content of what we say

               - wife upset, stomping around the house...
                  - what's wrong?....NOTHING!

            3) disguising the real message, innuendo

               - where the message comes through, but comes
                 through under the table
               - "Nice going honey"
               - "Its sure great to have you home"

- repeat first rule with points

- Q - how would you use the put off/ put on prin. to work on
        growing in this area?

- read 26-27

II. Keep Current

  - this is not going to be a "full-blown" lecture on anger,
    but we do need to talk about the implications of these
    verses to communication

  - you have the amplified translation in front of you:

    A. Get angry, but don't sin

       "When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath,
        your exasperation, your fury or indignation-last
        until the sun goes down. Leave no such room or
        foothold for the devil- give no opportunity to him"

        1. lying is sin, anger may not be

        2. anger is energy to use to solve problems

           - as I said, we'll talk more about that in a
             different lecture

        3. anger is sinful when it is used to attack others
           (Prov. 25:28) or self (stewing about the problem).

        4. Failure to solve problems daily means we are
            giving place, or a foothold, to the devil.

           - opening the way to disappointment, resentment,
             bitterness, and hatred.
           - distorting subsequent problems.


    - the issue here is - keeping current

- another way we could say that is:

    B. Stop clamming up

        1. cutting off communication by:

            - crying
            - threatening an explosion
            - bottom lining

            - or clamming up
            - some folks won't communicate verbally, but
               they're masters at the "slow freeze"

            - (per. illus - family/BBC/marriage)

            - according to this passage, that's a violation
                of the Bible


        2. Deal with problems today

            - in today's words, we would say - "don't go to
               bed angry"

            - God says, don't let the sun go down on your
              wrath
            - many couples have violated that truth -in fact
               they have allowed many moons to go down on
               their wrath as well

            - we can't clam up--we also can't "gunny sack"
                (illus - green stamp principle)

            - let me ask you to turn over to Matt. 6:34 to
              see a very important reason why we must obey
              this principle.
            - read Matt. 6:34
                - develop - "pile of problems"

    while this rule is true and important - we want to put
     this balancing idea on it:

    D. Six questions to ask before bringing up a sticky
        problem

        1. Do I have the facts right?

            - Prov. 18:13 - "he who answers a matter before
                he hears it, it is folly and shame to him"

        2. Should love hide it

            - I Pet. 4:8 - love covers a multitude of sins

        3. Is my timing right?

            - Prov. 15:13b - a word spoken in due season, how
                  good it is

            - 4 minute rule

        4. Is my attitude right?  Am I trying to help the
            other person?

            - Eph. 4:15

        5. Are my words loving?

            - Eph. 4:15

        6. Have I asked for God's help?

            - Prov. 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine
                   heart...

- read 29, 30

III. Attack Problems, Not People

    A. Avoid unwholesome words (corrupt communication)

        - opposite of edifying

        1. words that attack the person's character

            - Matt. 5:21,22 (name calling)

        2. tears down, rips apart, or hinders growth

            - James 3:5-12

            James 3:6 - The tongue is a fire, a world of
               iniquity, so is our tongue among our members
               that it defiles the whole body, and setteth on
               fire the course of nature, and it is set on
               the fire of hell

             - some of us have become pretty adept at cutting
               words
             - most of us would say that there was a period
               of time when we developed a sinful habit in
               this area

             - for me - college - "cut down or die" - became
                           known as "Dr. Sarcasm"

             - later - mom - "How are your teeth?" - "I don't
                       know, I'm not looking at them"

             - said earlier - most of us have developed a
               habit in this area
                 - now let me ask - when did you break it?
                   (attack the problem, not the person)

        3. Clouds or by-passes the conflict

            - typical argument (what were we arguing about?)

        4. grieves the Holy Spirit

            - Eph. 4:30, 5:18

    B. Use edifying communication which encourages or builds
        up

        1. two ways we must speak the truth in 4:15 are in
            love and to bring growth.

        2. words that edify, gives grace (the desire to do
            God's will) to those who hear

        3. words that zero in on the conflict - they are
             solution oriented

           Note - This rule can be violated by tones and body
             language.


- 2 transparencies - How could these be said better?
- good question to ask - the words that I've spoken this week
- have they ministered grace - or have they ministered
  something else (edifying or unwholesome?)

- Prov. 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue

- Repeat rules

read 31,32

IV.  Act, Don't React

    - you have the definitions for the various words for you
      there under letter "A"

    - point is - all of the positive words in these verses
      are actions, the negative ones are reactions

    2. the natural tendency of our Gen. 3 nature is to be
       defensive about dealing with our own sins

        contrast the Gen. 3 man from the I John 1 man
         (includes "a" and "b")

        - some of us will do just about anything before
          admitting that we did anything wrong
          (especially applicable to Christian servants)
        - cf. Trenton - kids fighting - always "he hit me
               first"
        - "He committed sin #1, makes it right for me to
           commit sin #2"


    B. Actions (vs. 32) - attitudes and actions you must "put
       on" to replace the reactions

       1. definitions (have them in the notes)

       2. you, through God's Spirit, must learn to be kind,
          tenderhearted, and forgiving

        - point is - must act instead of reacting

        - Thermometer/thermostat

    C. Conflicts are possible only if each reacts

Conclusion

    1. changing habits is not easy, but it can be done
        "that's hard" - Yes, but...
        a. it can be done - I Cor. 10:13 - There hath no
                           Phil. 4:13 - I can do all ..
        b. hard, but Prov. 13:15 - the way of the trans.

    2. No matter how irresponsible the other person is, you
       must act biblically

       - you can't control the other person, but you can
         control how you respond

Faith Church