Four Rules of Communication: Attack the Problem

Faith Church June 20, 2010 Ephesians 4:25-32

Introduction:
1. We are continuing our series: “Taking the NEXT Step With Joy: In Our Marriages & Families”
- Let keep reminding ourselves:
Strong Christians = Strong Marriages = Strong Families = Strong Churches
2.  I think we’d all agree that communication being one of the VERY IMPORTANT roles of your Christian life, your marriage, your family, and your church family!
- people who don’t communicate well, don’t grow well – which means they are not going to be as spiritually strong as they could be
3.  A few things we emphasized were:
1)  As we said last week:  * Jesus was a PERFECT Communicator !
> and if we’re going to bring glory to God, we have to be like Christ!
2)  Words alone are not sufficient for effective biblical communication.  
* 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”  
3)   We cannot show love with actions alone because God tells us hundreds of times in the Bible that He loves us.  
-  So, we should not only do things to communicate our love for others, we must also grow in telling others that we love them . . .
> . . . and use well chosen words to communicate & solve problems and/or prevent them.
4)  Godly Communication is a key to building relationships:  our relationship with Christ (even confessing sin, prayer, asking for wisdom), strong marriages/families, and strong churches
-  While some communicate better than others . . . we all must be growing in the area of communication – in both words and actions.
4. Let’s remember a working definition of . . .* Effective Communication:
“The process of sharing information with another person in such a way that the sender’s message is understood as he intended it. Unless the sender and receiver have come to a common meaning, they haven’t communicated effectively.”  Wayne Mack, Your Family God’s Way
* We’ve been recommending the following resources for further study: (Ministry Resource Center)
•    War of Words – Paul Tripp
•    Your Family God’s Way – Wayne Mack
5. Remember, in Eph. 4, Paul writes about how to grow and change by replacing the ‘old self’ (thoughts & actions) with the ‘new self’ (biblical thoughts and biblical actions)
6. Paul illustrated this in verses (v. 25-32) and in these examples of the ‘put off’ and ‘put on’ – the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write 4 very effective “Rules of Communication”
> these are good for PREVENTING and SOLVING problems (in all areas of our lives)
[READ Eph. 4:25-32- skip v. 28 – though it is included in the context of v. 22-24 of put off/put on]
[REVIEW Rule #1 & 2]
Rule #1:  BE HONEST - v. 25.
A.  This is a command. - "You speak!"
- you have a choice to obey it or disobey it (both have consequences)
B.  Honesty is more than not lying.
- Honesty is telling the truth (the facts, reality, and being open about it!)
-  We should not just put off lying, but . . .
C.  Put On: speaking the truth.
> this is NOT telling everyone ALL your thoughts, ALL opinions, & ALL criticisms.
> The goal of speaking the truth is not you speaking your mind but SOLVING CONFLICTS in a way that brings glory to God or PREVENTING problems from occurring
- and to speak the truth . . . . IN LOVE (that’s the hard part!)
D.  Dishonesty is not pleasing to God!
* Dishonesty can take on different forms:
1.  Outright deceit (includes exaggeration, embellish truth)
2.  Conflict between body language and tones (halo) and the content of what we say.
3.  Disguising the real message w/innuendoes.
Rule #2:  KEEP CURRENT - v. 26 &27.
- another way to say this is:  
* Solve today’s problems today!
- remember that in this process, the verse tells us to . . .
A.  Be angry, but don't sin.
- we have to keep in mind that . . .
1.  Lying (v.25) is sin; anger (v. 26) may not be a sin.
- Anger itself is not sin (it’s the reason for the anger and the how it’s demonstrated that determines the sinfulness of anger)
- God can be angry – but He does not sin (because He is holy – perfect, w/o sin)
2.  Anger is emotional energy to be used to solve or prevent problems.
- Anger is a God given emotion which produces energy intended to help you solve problems biblically and solve them today – or to prevent them!
3.  Anger is sinful when it is used to attack others or self (deep bitterness setting in about the problem).
- That’s why Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the command:
B.  Stop clamming up.
- remember: Most people who ‘clam up’ eventually ‘blow up.’
Caution:  Failure to solve problems daily = gives place, or a foothold, to Satan!
C.  Seven questions to ask yourself before bringing trying to resolve a problem.
1.  Do I have the facts right?
2.  Should love hide it?  Is it sinful?  Is it hindering growth?
3.  Is my timing right?
4.  Is my attitude right?  Am I trying to help the other person?
5.  Are my words loving?
6.  Have I prayed for God's help?
7.  Do I need to seek counsel from someone else before I try to resolve this problem?
- Today our study takes us to the 3rd Rule of Communication:
Rule #3:  ATTACK THE PROBLEM, NOT THE PERSON - v. 29 & 30
- Q:  What does it mean to attack the person?
- Paul makes it very clear that we are to . . .
A.  “Put Off” words that attack a person's character.
- these are words that are the exact opposite of ‘edifying’ (building up)
- Paul (under Divine inspiration) uses the term ‘unwholesome’ words
“unwholesome”  (Greek: sapros)= that which is corrupt or foul
Example: It was used rotten fruit, vegetables, and other spoiled food.
Point:  “Foul language should never proceed from the mouth of a Christian, because it is totally out of character with his newness of life.  
- MacArthur went on to say:  
“Unwholesome language should be as repulsive to us as a rotten apple or a spoiled piece of meat. Off–color jokes, profanity, dirty stories, vulgarity, double entendre, and every other form of corrupt talk should never cross our lips. “
- and WHEN (not ‘if’) it does occur, we ought to 1) repent, 2) confess our sin to God and the appropriate people, and 3) grow as a result of what you did!
Q: In essence, what are we talking about?
1.  Words that “cut down“ the other person.
Example:  Matthew 5:21-22
•    Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER ' and 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.' 22 "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
- Jesus is warning us about calling someone a fool
IMPORTANT:  Note the CONTEXT in which Jesus was speaking . . .
> the warning is related to when a person is in conflict with another or is sinfully angry with the person
- the person to whom you are referring may be a “Proverbs Fool” (i.e. he/shefits the description) but be careful a/b your ‘motive’ & ‘attitude’ when calling a person that name!
>  it’s at that point that the consequences can be applied to your conduct
Point:  When you verbally attack a person you are really criticizing God in whose image that person is made!
2. Words that tear down, rip apart or hinder spiritual growth.
- Words deliberately designed to hurt instead of ‘edify’ (build up!).
- These kind of words are dangerous, destructive, and painful:
•    James 3:5-12 – READ – we studied this passage a couple of weeks ago!
•    Prov. 16:27 An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.
- if we are honest with each other about this, some of us have become pretty adept at cutting words
- and most of us would say that there was a period of time when we developed a sinful habit in this area
Example: Viars in college – his motto was ‘cut down or die’ and later received a doctorate degree in this area of communication . . . he was called ‘Dr. Sarcasm’ (LOL!!)
> thank the Lord he’s grown since then!! LOL!! and PTL!
- but let’s be honest: How would you respond if we played a recording of ALL of your communication in the past 2 weeks?
- maybe we need to remember the words of Jesus:
•    Matthew 12:36 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”
- we also have to consider …
3.  Words that cloud-up the issues or by-passes the conflict.
- this is point where Matthew 7:1-5 can be violated
- specifically: BLAMESHIFTING (which avoids taking responsibility for one’s part of the problem or trying to ‘change the subject’ instead of dealing with it and solving it)
•    Matthew 7:1-5 [READ]
- if you don’t take care of your sin 1st (get the ‘log’ out of your eye) you’re not going to see clearly how to help take the ‘speck’ out of your brother’s eye
[Note: It could read your ‘spouses’ eye, sister’s eye, ‘child’s’ eye, etc.]
Point:  Blame shifting is one of the ways we can cloud up the issue or try to ‘by-pass’ the original problem (which will NOT get resolved)
- one of the results of all this is the destruction of unity in the marriage, family, friendship, work place, or the Body of Christ!
4.  Words that grieve the Holy Spirit because we are not following His Word and the example of another member of the God-Head, Jesus Christ!
- Here’s a couple of quotes that communicate the message:
“The utterance of evil or worthless words is repugnant to the holiness of the Spirit, and is to be refrained from as calculated to grieve Him.”  
- Here’s another quote:
“Besides one’s conscience, the Holy Spirit also helps guard a believer’s speech. The fact that the Holy Spirit may be grieved points to His personality.”
-  since our goal in life is to please God, we don’t want to make Him angry, and we don’t want to ‘grieve’ Him
- remember, the Holy Spirit is the one living and dwelling inside of us
- our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should be using our bodies to bring glory to God
> our body . . .would include the TONGUE!
- instead of using ‘unwholesome’ words that tear people down and ruins relationships, and rob God of His glory because we aren’t giving the right opinion of God, we should:
B.  Use "edifying" communication that encourages or builds up.
•    Ephesians 4:29 . . . but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
- that’s what Paul meant when he wrote to “speak the truth in love” and to bring glory to God as we try to solve the problem!
-  this means that care must be given to not only WHAT you say but also HOW you say it.
- it should be in such a way that ‘it will give grace to those who hear it’
grace = God’s unmerited favor
Point: When communicating, you have to be careful WHAT you say and HOW you say it even when (and ESPECIALLY when) the person DOES NOT deserve it
> THAT is GRACE – just like God shows us
* Our words should edify and be filled with "grace" to those who hear
•    Col. 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Q: What does that look like?  
A:  Words that center on personal responsibility & express solutions in terms of action!
•    Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.
- one writer put it like tis:
“Our lips should speak that which builds up (Col. 4:6; Ps. 141:3). Corruption from the lips only means that there is corruption in the heart. The Spirit has sealed us (1:13–14); we should not grieve Him by allowing these sins of action and attitude to be in our lives.”

C.  What does it mean to attack the problem?
- Short answer: To Discuss the problem in God-honoring way
Q: What does that look like on a biblical and practical level?
1.  Starts with your heart (inner man)
- your words are not the problem, it’s the heart you have to focus on and change
- if the heart’s not right, your words won’t be right!
- Jesus said, “the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matt. 12:34)
2.  Includes your motive (What are you wanting to accomplish?)
- Are you really trying to please God or just get your way (being in control)
- if you’re being selfish in your motive, your response to the other person will not be good if they don’t do what you want them to do (you will violate Rule #4: Act, Don’t React)
3.  Thinking right
•    Getting the log out of your eye 1st
•    Determining to show love to the other person (try to help them, not hurt them)
•    Practicing self-control (God is watching and knows your thoughts)
NOTE: How would you want that person to talk to you?
4.  Using biblical terminology
- call it what God calls it – then you have biblical solutions to focus on
5.  Modeling grace
- even though the person may NOT deserve it, that’s the point of GRACE (unmerited favor)


6.  God is glorified in the way the problem was handled
•    1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
7.  Remembering you will give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for the stewardship of your tongue.
•    2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.


Conclusion:
1.  Which rule do you violate the most?
Rule #1:  Be Honest
Rule #2: Keep Current
Rule #3: Attack the Problem, Not the Person
2.  Do you need to ask your spouse’s forgiveness for violation of either of these rules?
Prayer Time:
⇨    Husband – pray for the men
⇨    Wife – pray for the ladies
⇨    One person – pray for the marriages/families
 

Faith Church