How can you say tough words to someone and yet maintain your composure? How do you confront people whom you love but who are going off the track—and yet still maintain your friendship with them? Is it possible to speak tough words and yet retain a tender heart? I think the answer to that question is YES! I also think it is an important dimension of the Christian life that is rarely discussed.
The early church was made up of people from all over the place. Some had been raised in the Jewish synagogues and had strong religious background. Many others had been raised in a religious environment where there were a multitude of sounds, all claiming to be the truth. Much like our day! The moral values and relational skills of these folks also covered the waterfront. So, there are many sections in the NT which end up addressing morals and relationships between people. We’ll take a look at the anchor passage and really attempt to dive in deep.
You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of Him and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:20-27).
Contained within this section of the passage are several
“Tools for Tough Talking”
1. Discover the truth of Christ by knowing Him
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6)
Some fads are bad. Some are good. WWJD is a good fad. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you know that He is the ultimate roadmap, and placing your trust in Him means you fall more in love with Him each day as you live out your life and discover God’s plan for you. Knowing “whose” you are makes it possible to refocus your behaviors.
2. Discard your old self, develop a new attitude
“For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6)
“Do not conform any longer to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2)
3. Devote yourself to Christ
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:12-13)
4. Destroy deceit, live in truth
“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices” (Colossians 3:9)
“The Lord detest lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22)
5. Defend against anger taking root
Anger, when stored up, becomes resentment and leads to bitterness. That is a cancer that must not be allowed to stay.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15)
6. Determine not to let the adversary get space in your life
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7)
The first steps towards tough words and maintaining a tender heart begin with comprehending whose you are. Once you know “who” you are, then you can begin to control the “what” you say.
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