THINKing before Speaking
Applying James 3:1-12 with help from Ephesians 4:17-32
As I said in my sermon, James tells us what we ought to do, but he doesn't provide a whole lot of guidance on how we ought to do it. But that's okay, because there are other Scriptures which come to our aid. I was especially struck this week by how the Apostle Paul addresses the issue in Ephesians 4:17-32.
In Ephesians chapter four as a whole, Paul is exhorting the believers in Ephesus to live in unity and holiness. In our passage, Paul contrasts the inner life and thinking of believers and nonbelievers, and he insists that the believers reflect the righteousness and renewed mind that come from the truth in Christ.
“So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts. Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn about Christ like this, if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus. You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.
"Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity. The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need. You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.” (NET)
- T – Is it true?
- H – Is it helpful?
- I – Is it inspiring?
- N – Is it necessary?
- K – Is it kind?
For the following six days, I will be unpacking in more detail what each of these letters means. I encourage you to join me daily on this exploration of Ephesians chapter 4 as we strive together to live out the exhortations of James chapter 3.
Here is a great prayer to use while doing this study:
Day 1: THINK: is what I want to say true?
Take a moment or two to meditate on verse 25.
“Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
What kinds of falsehoods do I tend to be tempted to engage in?
- In a conversation today or in the next few days, I will choose to be truthful when it’s difficult.
- In the same conversation or in a different one, I will refrain from criticizing a person or group’s reported actions until I check whether they are true or not.
- Today, I will choose to restrain my posts and comments so that they are true, fact-checking when necessary.
- Today, I will choose a topic I would like to post about (or choose an existing post /tweet/blog you’d like to share or comment on). Before posting, I will fact-check using three sources, two of which are not among my usual sources of information.