- How important was preaching to Jesus?
Making the Unclean Clean by Patrick Cho (Mark 1:40-45)
- How does Jesus’ encounter with a leper relate to us?
Making the Unclean Clean by Patrick Cho (Mark 1:40-45)
by Pastor Patrick Cho
One of the potential challenges of local church ministry is that most of the people who serve do so on a volunteer basis. If you are serving on a ministry staff, the reality is that while you might want to give your all to it, you most likely also have other commitments like work, school, and family that rightfully demand your time and energy. Being involved in church does not mean that you are called to abandon all other commitments. Providing excellent service in church ministry does not require quitting your job, dropping out of school, or leaving your family.
However, it is sadly easy to treat church ministry as if it is on a lower tier of importance than these other commitments. One reason for this is an incorrect assumption that most of the ministry should be performed by the pastors and leaders of the church, while the rest of the members are simply there to assist. There are some who believe that since pastors are paid to do ministry, it is only right that they shoulder the bulk of the work of ministry. Another reason is that people in the church compartmentalize spiritual things and do not see how Christ impacts every area of their lives. One outworking of this error is that people pursue marriage and career much like the rest of the world, treating these things as of ultimate importance. Church ministry, then, is relegated as optional or time-permitting, not much different than any other hobby or recreation. The thinking is essentially, “God, let me take care of all the ‘me’ stuff, and then I will give myself to the ‘You’ stuff.”
Because of these reasons and more, there can be a tendency to grow lax in service of the church. We put in less of an effort and do not strive for excellence in what we do. It is easy to procrastinate, get lazy, and drop the ball. Since you are probably not paid for your ministry to the church, it can be easy to develop a mentality that you will only serve when it is comfortable or convenient. On the other hand, it might simply be that you have been running so hard for so long that you are simply tired and so you are not serving at the level of excellence you once did.
While there is an understanding that church ministry is not all you are supposed to do, what you do ought to be done well to the glory of God. There are several reasons we need to be careful not to relegate church ministry as an inferior commitment.
In the end, consideration needs to be given to each side. The church should not overburden its members requiring so much that other commitments suffer. Take family for instance: if the church demands so much of your time that it is detrimental to your family because you are honestly left with little time for your spouse and children, then the church should reconsider its program to ensure that it is not designed to cause you to sin against your family by neglecting them.
At the same time, there are many people who use family as an excuse not to get involved in the ministry of the church. We need to be wary of using family this way as a sort of trump card. The Bible does not say that we are all members of one another until we have families of our own. It does not command us to love one another and serve one another until we start a family. Of course, it can be challenging to discern how to be excellent both in church ministry as well as in our homes, but we are called to both.
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon
The teaching of these words must seem very surprising to those who are strangers to vital godliness, but to the sincere believer it is only the inculcation of a recognized truth. The life of the believer is here described as a delight in God, and we are thus certified of the great fact that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ungodly persons and mere professors never look upon religion as a joyful thing; to them it is service, duty, or necessity, but never pleasure or delight. If they attend to religion at all, it is either that they may gain thereby, or else because they dare not do otherwise. The thought of delight in religion is so strange to most men, that no two words in their language stand further apart than ‘holiness’ and ‘delight.’ But believers who know Christ, understand that delight and faith are so blessedly united, that the gates of hell cannot prevail to separate them. They who love God with all their hearts, find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. Such joys, such brimful delights, such overflowing blessednesses, do the saints discover in their Lord, that so far from serving Him from custom, they would follow Him though all the world cast out His name as evil. We fear not God because of any compulsion; our faith is no fetter, our profession is no bondage, we are not dragged to holiness, nor driven to duty. No, our piety is our pleasure, our hope is our happiness, our duty is our delight.
Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower; as indivisible as truth and certainty; they are, in fact, two precious jewels glittering side by side in a setting of gold.
”Tis when we taste Thy love,
Our joys divinely grow,
Unspeakable like those above,
And heaven begins below.’
by Josh Liu
The Bible is replete with references to various parts of the human body (e.g., foot, hand, tongue, arm, eye, head, etc.). While many references to body parts are in a literal sense (i.e., a physical organ), Scripture often uses body parts figuratively to represent or address some spiritual principle. For the 2016-2017 academic year, College Life Bible study went through a topical series entitled “Spiritual Anatomy.” We examined what the Bible taught on specific body parts to further understand how we ought to honor God with our whole being, physically and spiritually.
The following provides a brief overview of the topical series:
1. “Body Worship” (Rom. 12:1-2)
Sinners rightly deserve God’s wrath for their unrighteousness. Yet God would be merciful to justify sinners by faith in Christ so that they would never face His condemnation (cf. Rom. 3:21-22; 5:1-2; 8:1). In response, believers are commanded to spiritual worship by presenting their bodies (i.e., lives, whole being) as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice. This is a comprehensive body (whole person) response–a life of worship to the God Who saves.
2. “A Theology of the Flesh” (Rom. 7:14-8:1)
Besides literally, Scripture also refers to man’s flesh metaphorically, representing all that opposes God. Theologically, the flesh represents the principle of indwelling sin in believers–that which remains of his former, unregenerate, old self (cf. Gal. 5:13, 19; Eph. 2:3). While believers have a new nature in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17), they will still battle sin on this side of eternity. Believers should not be discouraged, but persevere in opposing the sinful flesh.
3. “A Heart for God” (Selected Scriptures)
The heart is like the control center of man, being the source of life, thoughts, and actions (cf. Gen. 6:5; Prov. 4:23; 20:5; Luke 6:45). However, sinners’ hearts are also corrupt with sin (Jer. 17:9) and require God’s transforming, regenerative work (Ezek. 26:26; Acts 15:9). In response to a transformed heart for God, we are commanded to seek the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 4:29); love the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37); serve the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 10:12); obey the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 30:1-2); turn/return to the Lord with all your heart (Deut. 30:10); follow the Lord with all your heart (1 Kings 14:8); give thanks to the Lord with all your heart (Pss. 9:1; 86:12; 111:1; 138:1); and trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5).
4. “Mental Metamorphosis” (Selected Scriptures)
How would you evaluate your thought life? When you are not required to think about something, what do your thoughts drift toward? How well do you control your thought life? Are you concerned with what fills or influences your mind? As God transforms and renews believers’ minds (thoughts, desires, intentions), they are commanded to proactively set their mind on the Spirit. One means is by being devoted to the things of the Spirit: edification of believers (Eph. 4:7, 12), worship (Eph. 5:18-20), submission (Eph. 5:21-6:9), etc.
5. “Spiritual Nephrology” (Selected Scriptures)
In Scripture, the human kidney is sometimes figuratively used to refer to man’s inmost being, mind, or affections and has been translated as mind, heart, and feelings. Since the areas surrounding the kidneys are sensitive, the kidneys were believed to be the seat of emotions (cf. Job 19:27; Ps. 73:21; Prov. 23:16). Often times, people have been told to ignore their emotions and grunt through some situation by sheer will power. While we are not be led or dictated by our emotions, we must redeem our emotions to honor God.
6. “Tongue un-Twisted” (Selected Scriptures)
The mouth, tongue, and lips are often used to refer to the activity of speech and communication. Scripture confronts the misuse of speech (cf. Prov. 10:1-32; 12:18; 20:19; etc.). God will judge every person for his or her words (cf. Matt. 12:33-37). Christ’s servants ought to seek to honor and glorify God with their speech and communication. They must silence sinful speech (e.g., gossip, slander, lying, critical speech, insults, etc.) and communicate sanctifying speech (e.g., edifying words, encouragements, comfort, etc.).
7. “Covered and Unashamed” (Selected Scriptures)
Scripture uses a variety of words to euphemistically refer to the sex organs. The sex organs are also used to refer to the activity of sex. Unfortunately, these (literal) parts are sinfully abused and used to pursue immorality and wickedness. Figuratively, Scripture references the sex organs in contexts of shame and guilt. For example, after Adam and Eve sinned, they realized they were naked and ashamed (cf. Gen. 3:7). However, for those who have ever sinned sexually yet have submitted to Christ as their Lord and Savior, Christ covers their shame with His righteousness and allows them to stand unashamed (forgiven, reconciled, and sanctified) before God.
8. “God’s Good Design – Part 1: Male Headship” (Selected Scriptures)
Scripture uses a variety of words to euphemistically refer to the sex organs. The sex organs identify mankind’s gender–male or female. God created mankind in His image male and female (though God is not gendered). Men and women are created equal as God’s image-bearers, and fulfill differing functions or roles. As heads (or leaders), men are called to be mature–spiritual maturity, character maturity, relational maturity, and stewarding maturity.
9. “God’s Good Design – Part 2: Female Helpership” (1 Tim. 2:9-15)
Men and women are created equal as God’s image-bearers and fulfill differing functions or roles according to those genders. One of the primary responsibilities for women is the role of a helper. A significant aspect of understanding this helper role is authority-submission. The Apostle Paul provides further instruction on authority and submission in the church by addressing women’s appearance, conduct, design, and blessing.
10. “Eye Exam” (Selected Scriptures)
The eye is used in its literal meaning and in connection with expressions relating to seeing. Figuratively, the eye refers to the seat of perception, understanding, and realization. Theologically, sinners are spiritually blind (cf. Jer. 5:21) and Jesus Christ gives spiritual sight (cf. John 8:12). Sinners ought to turn to God for spiritual sight through repentance and faith. Also, believers ought to fixate (focus, behold, look toward in anticipation and priority) on God (as oppose to worldly things), purity (as oppose to immoral images), and eternity future (as oppose to only the present).
11. “Beautiful Feet” (Rom. 10:1-15)
Scripture often uses the feet to refer to activity and movement. Believers are to be busy (active) in witnessing, evangelizing, and making disciples. The Apostle Paul declares, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” (Rom. 10:15). To be active in evangelizing (declaring the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ), believers can remember to be impassioned for the lost, recognize man’s responsibility, be confident in the promises of salvation, make no distinctions between persons, and carry the Gospel wherever they go.
12. “A Spiritual Physical” (Ps. 38)
A brief observation of the world (and human history) will reveal at least one thing: the world prizes health. There are many who are ailing and ill in need of care, recovery, and cure. It is often during ill health where man recognizes the fragility of life, true priorities of life, the blessing of good health or relief, and so on. Believers can idolize health in much the same way as the world. Scripture reveals that sinners are spiritually sick and in need of Christ, the spiritual Physician (cf. Luke 5:31-32). Our physical and spiritual health–emotional, cognitive, and physical state–can be affected by sin. Psalm 38 is the portrait of one who is in poor physical and spiritual health due to personal sin. Such experiences are opportunities to worship God, examine oneself for personal sin, and patiently endure suffering.
13. “One Body” (Selected Scriptures)
One cannot miss the absolute unity of believers as the body of Christ (cf. Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:14ff; Eph. 4:4-5). Each believer is to be a healthy, functioning member in the body (i.e., church), with humility and harmony.
As sinners, man’s body and spirit is corrupt with sin. By the mercies of God, He transforms man’s spirit in Christ and promises a bodily resurrection. So then, while believers await new glorified bodies, they are to steward their bodies (literally / physically) and lives (figuratively / spiritually) for God’s glory as an act of worship. May the Spiritual Anatomy series exalt God, edify His saints, and evangelize the lost.
by Pastor James Lee
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:4-8)
To think well is to think humbly. And anywhere we’re not humble, we’re not thinking well. And to think humbly requires us to think reliantly, think prayerfully, so that we’re refusing to be anxious or fearful about anything, trusting Him, and not ourselves. Remember v. 6 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We need to dwell on that… prayerfully. If we’re anxious, then we’re not believing His promise, are we? The sooner we get a grip on ourselves that we’re nothing, outside the grace of God, the sooner we’re going to be rejoicing. Paul writes, repeats our Lord Jesus, don’t worry! Anxiety is opposite of being primarily concerned about others. Prayer reflects and effects. Worry, anxiety and discontentment, Dr. Sam Storms, rightly says are all self-centered, rather than God-centered, when he writes,
“Anxiety is rooted in self, while prayer is rooted in God. Anxiety is the fruit of a narrow, constricted view of life. The only thing one can see is the problems or perplexities surrounding us. Prayer is the fruit of a broad and expansive view of life in which God is so big that everything else, even our worst problems and worries, shrink into insignificance. Anxiety is horizontal in focus. Prayer, on the other hand, is vertical in focus. That is to say, when you worry you are consumed with looking to the left and to the right, forward and backward. When you pray, you can’t help but look up. Anxiety never raises your eyes above your problems, your situation and your circumstances. Prayer raises your eyes above and beyond yourself to God and His power. Anxiety looks to self to solve problems. Prayer looks to God to endure problems. When you are anxious, your circumstances and problems control you; they have sovereignty over you; you invest in them a power and authority to shape your life. Anxiety is an expression of fear. Prayer is an expression of faith. That is why prayer is an antidote to anxiety.”
Realize anxiety is an indictment on God’s flawless wisdom and a mocking of His infinite power. And that’s not very humble, for the creature to say that, about the Creator, is it? We might not think about it this way, especially when we’re struggling, but it’s self-righteous arrogance. But the opposite is humility, which is to do as 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all our anxiety on Him, because He cares for us.” The opposite of prayer is pride. But heartfelt prayer is an expression of humility. John MacArthur said, “If you are going to be stable in the tough times of life, it is born out of an absolute distrust of yourself and a total trust in the sovereign God of grace and power.” Spurgeon said, “If you believe everything turns on the free will of man, you will naturally have man as the principle figure in your landscape.” Then you’re going to be disappointed, by putting all your hope in what people might provide you. Because the dilemma you’ll come face to face with, is how weak and how fickle people are. And, then you’re going to have every reason to be full of anxiety! When the Source of our joy is unshakeable, then our joy becomes unshakeable, and we get HIS peace.
Question: if God already knows what we’re going to ask and what we need, before we pray, then why do we pray? There are different biblical reasons, but one is that we need it, not Him. Prayer is not to inform Him, but to rely on Him, and to glorify Him. And a big reason why we don’t pray well, is because we don’t think well. We’re not desperate enough. We haven’t come to the end of ourselves, so that we’re not expecting anything beyond the grace of God. We realize we don’t deserve anything anyway, and what we do deserve, God’s wrath, is not at all what we’re getting. Thus, we haven’t been cheated out of anything, we haven’t received the short end of the stick or a raw deal. So we’re not looking for kudos or appreciation or understanding from others. So, we will not be disappointed, only thrilled and thankful when we get anything good. And humble people are always thankful people! Because humble people are not thinking that they deserve something better, but discontent and angry and greedy people think they do. That’s why Paul says we pray, “with thanksgiving.” That’s why we can be content, in hunger or in plenty. Do we not tend to be plentiful in requests, but minimal in thanksgiving? But if we know He’s worthy, that He’s already solved our biggest problem, then we’re going to be habitually thankful. It’s no surprise then that Paul says in Colossians 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
The irony is that we usually think that our complaining is due to our unhappiness, but in the context of the cross of Christ, very often, the truth is that our unhappiness sometimes is ironically due to our complaining. Spurgeon said, “If we complained less and were more thankful, we would be happier, and God would be more glorified.” FF Bruce on the flip side, warned us, “Lack of gratitude is the first step to idolatry.”
by Hanka Rodgers (and other contributors)
I have been to so many English Camps by now that I can’t keep all the people and years straight. The only team I remember vividly is my first English Camp in 2001 that I went to as an unbeliever. Most of the people who were on that team are now not only married with children, but serving as leaders of the church. I still remember Patrick telling me about his desire to become a pastor (I guess he was trying to evangelize me?); being in awe of Brian Chan’s and Peter Park’s (now in San Jose) piano skills; Angella and Hansol Ahn being the cutest dating couple ever; Jin Lee getting a floss through his nose and mouth; and being completely confused about Jane Min dating Min Kim (I thought maybe when Asian people date, the girl takes the first name of her boyfriend as her last name?). In some ways, I am the perfect product of what Lighthouse believes missions is. The Camp of 2001 had a profound effect on how I thought about Christians and God, but it was the perseverance of the church members in Ostrava that God eventually used to save me. The LBC team did what they came to do – they shared the gospel clearly and made me think. Then they left and the local church took over. Add God’s grace and His sovereignty and you have a perfect salvation story.
Throughout the years, there were more stories of salvation, though perhaps not as many as we would all wish to see. But saving souls hasn’t been the only way that God has been using these missions trips. We have compiled a few testimonies from different people and asked them how they benefitted from the LBC Czech mission. Two of them are from the Czech church and the other two from San Diego. It’s obvious that these trips benefit the Czechs, but God also chooses to work in the lives of the team members. Even though our church doesn’t believe that the primary reason for going on mission should be to grow spiritually, I think it’s foolish to think that the team members only serve others and don’t learn anything from the trip. Jin Lee’s testimony below is (and should be) an exception, but missions often expose things we haven’t seen before and challenges us to grow in areas we need to grow in. Christian life in the Czech Republic is usually not as comfortable as it is here (especially when it comes to the number of Christians they get to fellowship with) and it’s often encouraging to see Czech Christians persevere.
Enjoy reading a few paragraphs about how God has used your financial support and prayers to work in people’s lives – often in ways that they themselves never imagined He would!
Meinolf Mellwig (church in Beroun)
I have the privilege of having seen about 15 lighthouse teams come to Czech to serve with our church.
There are many areas in which Lighthouse teams have been a huge blessing for me and for my family.
Through one of the first English camps, Jirka got saved who later became our son in law. Also in the life of Anna, our daughter in law, English camps have played a big role in bringing her to Christ. The same is true as least for one of our children. These have been very personal blessings for our family.
In addition, Lighthouse teams have played a fundamental role in shaping our church. This is true in terms of theology as well as practical issues on how to run and lead a church. The many books and commentaries that the teams have brought over the years have contributed and enforced this influence.
The teams have always been a testimony to our church members in terms of commitment, attitude and desire to serve the Lord and see people to get to know the Lord. They have been always very well prepared and their servant heart was clearly visible to everyone. Through their intensive ministry to the campers many hearts were touched and directed toward Christ. The ultimate fruit of their selfless ministry will be seen in eternity. In both churches, Ostrava and Beroun there are church members who got saved and added to the church because of the impact of English camps.
Another personal blessing has been the precious friendship with Patrick and John. Many hours of good, deep talks have helped me personally to grow and think through various spiritual areas concerning ministry and church as well as personal issues and family matters.
To wrap it up in just one sentence, for my personal life as well as for my whole family the connection to Lighthouse is one of the strongest and best influences in our spiritual walk with the Lord.
Pavla Nawratova (church in Beroun)
When I look back and remember all the times I had a pleasure to meet members of each team there is one thing that comes to my mind: astonishment. How big must be the love and passion to serve Christ that brings people who could spend this time according to their heart desires, to invest this time in other people and tell them about God. This is something that amazes me every year since the first time I met people from Lighthouse. This happened twelve years ago and I am so happy that I can look forward to the thirteenth one. Apart from these “spiritual” thoughts there are also fun memories of Hagoo times and also of those “The most smelly shoe and the longest armpit hair” contests. Also, when I was a kid I had no chance to meet Asian people. We all thought that they look same and are very serious. No way, they look totally different (some of them) and are really funny (most of them). Yeah and they think we all look the same too. So to close up, I would really, really, really!!!, like to thank all of you who are willing to come to this small strange country and serve. You are all very much needed.
Jin Lee (LBCSD)
Wow! What can I say. Our God is almighty and sovereign! I decided to go on the Czech Mission Trip in 2001 not to do missions but more to “Czech” out and travel around Europe. Almighty God was able to take my selfish motives and use the mission trip to confront me with a decision I had to make. At the fork in the road, God made it very clear that I could not call myself a Christian and continue to live in sin. Either I needed to stop calling myself a Christian and do what I wanted to do, or live my life as a Christian in total obedience. He allowed me to see how powerful the Gospel is with right living. God, rich in His mercy called me to submit my life to Him. God used the 2001 mission trip to save me. I can’t remember if we had anyone else come to know Christ in 2001 in Czech Republic but I came to know Christ for which I will forever be grateful.
Thank You Lord Jesus!
Kevin and Mabel Tse (LBCSD)
“Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.” (John Piper)
Dear LBC family,
We wanted to share with you all how missions to the Czech Republic back in 2006 was a blessing to us, and how even today (over 10 years later) we continue to see the spiritual fruit being born out of that trip. The goal of missions is not necessarily to make “converts”, but rather to make disciples. As part of the call to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20), it is our belief that missions ought not to be done apart from the local church. That doesn’t just mean being sent out by a local church (with all the accountability, support and prayer that comes with that), but also partnering with a local church in the area that we send missionaries to. In the case of the Czech Republic, those local church planters are Meinolf and Martina Mellwig. The Mellwig’s warm friendship over the years has been an encouragement to us, even to this day. This same kindness and love is shown through the members of the church, who treated us like family from the moment we got off the plane. It’s an interesting idea when you think about how one Gospel and one Truth really tie all true believers together – so much so that complete strangers on the other side of the world can treat each other like best friends almost instantaneously. This too was an instant blessing for Mabel and me to experience, and still is an encouragement to us today as subsequent teams report the same experience year after year, without fail.
There is also the blessing of seeing people come to faith. The English camps have been used by God to bring about true, genuine salvation to the lives of many. When we were there in 2006, we met many people who had been ministered to by LBCSD team members from previous years, and by Meinolf’s church after we leave each year. Mabel and I recall feeling like we weren’t just part of the 2006 Czech missions team, but that we were also a part of a bigger “mission” – one that didn’t just span the two to three weeks we were there, but linked us to previous (and subsequent) missions teams that were sent to the Czech Republic.
In Heaven there will be no missions because there will be no need. In the meantime, we are called to make disciples of Christ. Whether that occurs locally/domestically or overseas, the goal is the same – to make disciples of Christ and to see Him being worshiped everywhere including places where true worship had previously not existed. Being able to be a part of the summer missions team to the Czech Republic has given us front row seats to the demonstration of His abounding love as He calls His sheep from around the world to come into the family of God.
“The only way we are going to know Christ as our supreme treasure is if we diminish the value of competing treasure. Anything— even good things— must go if they hinder Christ’s lordship in our lives and hearts. If we cherish and cling to competing treasures, our affection for God will grow sluggish and our loneliness will only increase.” (Lydia Brownback, Finding God in My Loneliness)
by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz
Feliz Friday! It’s time for reading, and listening(!), to what has been happening this week. So let’s get to it!
That’s all for this week! Please be in prayer for the youth and collegians, as they will be finishing with their respective ministry Bible study tonight. See you all on Sunday!
Soli Deo Gloria
by Pastor John Kim
Thumper: He doesn’t walk very good, does he?
Mrs. Rabbit: Thumper!
Thumper: Yes, mama?
Mrs. Rabbit: What did your father tell you this morning?
Thumper: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that there are many people around us that don’t say very nice things. For some people it is second nature to be sarcastic, biting, contradictory, joking, cutting, or just plain unhelpful. Some are quick to speak and take advantage of someone, whether it be when someone mispronounces a word, uses wrong grammar, or misuses a word. While it is easy to notice this in others, do we take a look at our own lives to consider what comes out of our own mouths?
I still remember a time when I was a youth pastor and held a staff meeting one weekend. We had what was called “brutal honesty” times and it was to give staff members the opportunity to share without fearing repercussions. One staff member shared how she felt that the majority of the staff, especially the guys, were constantly sarcastic and joking and upon reflection, it was true. The atmosphere at church tended to be comfortable with a joking attitude and while it might not have been malicious, there was definitely a sense where the sarcastic tone dominated the interactions. It was sobering to realize that there were those who were hurt by such words.
Now some will say, “Can’t people just take a joke?” Maybe some can but this kind of question might reveal something deeper. Is there consideration for how our words either edify or tear someone down? Does our speech reflect the kind of words and consideration that would honor Christ?
Ephesians 4:29 has long been a verse where it stands guard over my mouth. It presents some very simple and straightforward thoughts that have helped me from saying things that would not have been very helpful. I think it’s when we give thought even to the little things, the quips, the remarks, the retorts, the reactionary words that are often careless – it is when we care enough to glorify God with our speech in all things that we can see our words as a ministry.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, 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. (Ephesians 4:29)
If we were to setup four guards at the point of our mouth and have them determine what is allowed to come out, these four sentinels would serve us well:
Guard #1: Nothing Unwholesome
The idea here is something that is bad, rotten, worthless, harmful. The verse starts off with a pretty comprehensive coverage – “let no unwholesome word.” In other words, every word that comes out cannot be allowed to pass by if characterized in this way. Sometimes we think that certain words or phrases are harmless if they are just said in a joking manner. But this does not take into account a deeper consideration. The question is whether what is being said wholesome or not. Will it contribute to the health of the one who hears it? Will it bring blessing and increase toward godliness? Someone might say, “But can’t we just kid around once in awhile?” What is revealed through questions like these is a blindness to one’s own selfishness and lack of consideration toward others. Is it okay to speak in whatever way I wish without regard for those who hear it? We should only be aware that the words are not only for the person they are directed toward but those around who will hear it as well. What kind of testimony do you bear witness to when you open your mouth around others?
Guard #2: Only Edifying
The principle of edification is one that needs to be taken seriously as we have the opportunity to either build up someone or tear them down. There really can’t be wasted words when it comes to how we communicate with each other. There are again many who want to insist on looking for exceptions to joke around or speak nonsense while at the same time lacking in being deliberate to edify others with their words. There are some that would even want to justify pointing out the faults of others by saying they have the right to say what needs to be said. But it is not always helpful.
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all
things edify. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
It is a challenge but if one gives careful biblical consideration to what is said, the heart of one who truly loves others will desire the edification of others by carefully thinking how one can build up another person’s life by the words you choose to use. Not only can words be edifying, but they can minister healing to someone’s soul!
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)
Guard #3: Timely
“According to the need of the moment” means that there needs to be a sense of discernment that gives consideration to not only addressing a need but also seeking to be timely in the manner in which things are spoken. Timing is key for so many things and the words we speak can be a blessing or a curse in the timing of when they are spoken. Even if there is truth spoken, truth spoken in love gives consideration to the timing of how someone will receive it. Too many people insist on speaking what they want to share without Philippians 2:3-4 in mind:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one
another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3–4)
The timeliness of speaking the truth in love reflects the application of this truth, that you are willing to consider someone else’s interests before your own. How many conflicts could have been avoided or trouble averted if people just gave this particular sentinel to guard what came out of one’s mount? While we obviously cannot avoid all conflicts, there seems to be many times where people unnecessarily cause trouble by lacking this consideration.
He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent. Proverbs (17:27–28)
To exercise restraint and even keep silent show knowledge and wisdom. You can speak too soon and show how foolish you are.
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)
Guard #4: Gracious
Our words should be like gifts. The presentation of the right words is like setting the table with just the right dish to serve. The fact that grace is the operating principle also keeps in mind that these words are not just being given because the person deserves such word but even when the person doesn’t deserve such gifts.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. (Proverbs 25:11)
James writes how the tongue is such a small part of the body and yet it boasts great things, capable of setting fire and stirring up a world of iniquity. It is no surprise that so many conflicts stem from how we talk to each other. But we also have the great opportunity to bring blessing through our words and we can minister the truth in love by setting a guard over our mouths so that what comes out truly honors God and communicates the love of Christ to His glory.
by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz
You may be unaware of this, but there are a good number of resources related to our Argentina trips over the past 12 years. If you have ever wanted to become familiar with our missions trips to Argentina, especially what we do and what we’ve learned, then you’ve come to the right place! Please peruse what we have collected over the years. We hope it will be a blessing!