And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 44 September 28, 2008
In this issue:
October 5-10, 2008
lessons nightly, Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Communication often breaks down, not because people fail to talk to one another, but because they fail to listen to each other. It takes more than talking to actually communicate; it also requires being a good listener.
Our senses are bombarded daily with all kinds of speech; some we should listen to carefully and some we should tune out. The world’s enticements to sin are among the “voices” we must not listen to.
On the other hand, we must listen to:
* God’s word. God speaks to us through His Son, (Heb. 1:1-2). The Son has chosen to speak to us by means of his inspired apostles and prophets through the inspired Scriptures they wrote (Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). We listen to the Son of God by reading his word, the New Testament. Only then will we understand God’s will for our lives (read Eph. 3:3-5; 5:17). Are you listening to God?
* Your spouse. Any loving relationship requires communication in order to succeed. Listening to one another is essential to strengthening your marriage and sharing life’s blessings and challenges together (1 Pet. 3:7; Col. 3:18-19). Make time every day to listen to your husband or wife.
* Your brethren. Listening is required in order to encourage and exhort, to comfort and console, to rebuke, resolve and restore. We must talk with one another and not at each other if good is to be accomplished. Listening to one another shows our brotherly kindness and love (Rom. 12:9-16; 2 Pet. 1:7).
* The lost. When Jesus received sinners and ate with them he no doubt listened as well as spoke (Lk. 15:1-2). We must listen carefully when trying to convert the lost. Listening helps us focus on what we can best say to teach them the gospel (Col. 4:6).
We must be good listeners if we are to effectively communicate with others (“to impart, share, lit. to make common”). Jesus said, “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word” (Jno. 8:43). Unless we listen to God’s word we will not understand it and be saved (Jno. 8:31-32). Unless we listen to others we will not understand one another.
Before we speak we must be “swift to hear” (Jas. 1:19). Being a good listener includes…
* Not jumping to conclusions. It is essential that we do not assume we know what a person is going to say before he says it. We can all fall into this trap. The consequences of such presumption can be disastrous. The Bible says we are foolish to do so: “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 29:20). Good communication and righteous judgment is much better served by listening before we speak: “He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13).
* Verifying the accuracy of what you heard. As listeners we must allow that we may not have heard correctly what was said to us. Perhaps it was not clearly stated. Perhaps we were distracted when we heard it. Regardless, the careful listener will verify what he heard so he can answer appropriately. “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil” (Prov. 15:28). If we don’t know what we heard we cannot know how to give a righteous answer.
A key to knowing what to say is being sure we know what we heard. Jesus said to “take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18). Ask questions to make sure you understand what you heard. Marriage counselors advising couples on communication skills recommend asking a clarifying question of their spouse to assure good understanding and improve communication. That is wise counsel for us all.
* Reacting and responding in love. Some of the common reactions people have when they hear something upsetting include defensiveness, disgust, anger, and even hate. These are not the reactions of love. When love is in the heart of the listener it will show itself in the listener’s response. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7). One who listens with love will respond with the best interests of others in mind. He will communicate good things that make for peace; not inflame situations with caustic, malicious speech (Jas. 3:13-18).
Good communication requires good speaking and good listening skills. God has spoken to us in Christ and we must listen carefully to Him (Heb. 1:1-2; Jno. 8:43). If not, we will lose our souls (Jno. 12:48-50).
Let us speak wisely to one another and listen carefully so that good communication results, bearing godly fruit. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Lk. 8:8)! And finally, “Take heed how you hear” (Lk. 8:18).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 5:10-17
The current U.S. economic crisis reminds us of the temporary nature of all
material things and helps us focus on true riches, Prov. 28:20.
I. YOU ARE A STEWARD OF ALL YOU HAVE (Lk. 16:1-13).
A. Be Faithful
with what is Placed in Your Hand, 16:1-2, 9-12.
II. MONEY PRINCIPLES FOR LIFE.
A. You are not
Defined by your Possessions, Lk. 12:13-21; Eccl. 2:3-11; 5:18-20.
III. THINGS MORE VALUABLE THAN MONEY.
A. A Good Name,
IV. YOUR HEART IS WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, Matt. 6:19-21; 22-34.
Debates: Do they do any good?
This is being written on the day of the first Presidential Debate. Every election cycle the candidates meet and publicly discuss their differences, trying to convince us why we should agree with their agenda and vote for them. There is even a Commission on Presidential Debates that arranges and oversees these events. Evidently, many people believe honorable debate in the political arena serves a valid and useful purpose.
Why then do many of these same people, including many brethren, resist and object to honorable debate in the religious arena? Some object because they see participants who behave disgracefully and who are driven by personal agendas and unholy motives. Some object because they do not have the truth and fear exposure of their error. Some object because they are not prepared to publicly defend what they believe and practice.
These reasons do not justify rejecting debate itself as a worthy form of Bible study. There are numerous examples of debate in the New Testament (Acts 6:8-10; 9:22; 15:4-6; 18:28; 24:1-21). To oppose religious debate is to oppose God’s approval of it (cf. Jude 3).
For religious debate to be profitable there must be…
* A desire for truth above personal promotion. Anything less than a search for and defense of the truth is an unworthy and foolish endeavor (cf. Acts 26:29).
* People who want to study the Bible and do the Lord’s will instead of “lining up” with one party or the other. Debates can help us understand the issue of disagreement and determine the Bible the truth of the matter (1 Pet. 3:15). Truth, not partisanship, must prevail (Prov. 23:23).
* A determination to win souls, not to win a personal fight. Personal agendas have no place in honorable Bible debate. The “good fight of faith” is for souls, not self.
Brethren, have we lost the ability to disagree without being disagreeable? Some politicians have and some brethren have, too. Where this occurs we must correct ourselves and return to the Bible pattern. God pleaded with Israel, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). We must be able to do the same; allowing that we may be wrong but the Bible is always right (2 Tim. 2:15; Eph. 5:17).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 09/28/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA