Ephesians 4_29       The Seven C's of Communication

Rev. David Holwick  G                                   Church Covenant #6

First Baptist Church                   

Ledgewood, New Jersey

March 12, 2006

Ephesians 4:29


Church Covenant: "To refrain from gossiping, backbiting, and excessive anger;

   and to use the gift of speech to encourage one another in the Christian life."

  I. Something to give up for Lent.

      A. Catholic archbishop [?] on TV show.

           He caught my attention because he seemed rather young

              and ordinary, rather than pompous.

           What he said about Lent kept my attention.

           Apparently, when he was in seminary he had a habit of

              cutting down other students behind their backs.

           So that year for Lent he decided to give up criticism.

              He said his conversations were cut in half!

           What would it do to YOUR conversations?

      B. The power of the tongue.

          1) It can be very negative.

              a) This is the focus of most of the covenant's statement!

              b) It's an indication of how prevalent it is.

          2) Our speech can be powerful and positive.

              a) Encouragement can change a person's life.

              b) Even better, we can be bearers of God's Good News.

II. Cut the Crud.

      A. Gossip.

          1) Romans 1:29 puts gossip in the same sentence as murder.

          2) Warnings on gossip from the book of Proverbs:


             "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip

                separates close friends."


             "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who

                talks too much."


             "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a

                quarrel dies down."


             "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;

                they go down to a man's inmost parts."

             Make no mistake - we ENJOY gossip.  That is what makes it

             so dangerous and hard to stamp out.

      B. Backbiting and criticism.

         Galatians 5:15

         "If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out

            or you will be destroyed by each other."

         One time, twenty or so years ago, Gordon MacDonald was in Japan

            on a speaking tour with a close personal friend who was a

               number of years older than he was.

         As they walked down the street in Yokohama, Japan, the name of

            a common friend came up, and Gordon said something unkind

                about that person.

         It was sarcastic.  It was cynical.  It was a put-down.

         The older friend stopped, turned, and faced him until his

            face was right in front of Gordon's

         With deep, slow words he said, "Gordon, a person who says they

            love God would not say a thing like that about a friend."

         He could have put a knife into Gordon's ribs, and the pain

            would not have been any less.

         But you know something?

         There have been ten thousand times in the last twenty years

            that Gordon has been saved from making a jerk of himself.

         When he has been tempted to say something unkind about a

            brother or sister, he hear his friend's voice say,

         "Gordon, a person who says they love God would not speak in

            such a way about a friend."


          1) The world is full of critics.

          2) Are you willing to take as much as you give?

      C. Angry words.                                        Eph 4:31

         Ephesians 4:31

         "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and

            slander, along with every form of malice."

          1) Our covenant cuts you some slack - only "excessive"

                anger is forbidden.

              a) (Apparently they want to allow for righteous


          2) What you say in an outburst can hurt someone for years.

      D. Coarse talk.                                        Eph 5:4

         Ephesians 5:4

         "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse

            joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving."

          1) Want to destroy your witness for Jesus?  Use crude

                language around your friends.

          2) Self-control must start with your tongue.

III. Seven C's of Communication.  (what NOT to do)             #28322

      A. Never Compare.

         Don't say "Why can't you be like her husband..." or "You're

            just like..."

         It's unfair to compare; God made every person unique.

         Appreciate the other person for who they are, warts and all.

      B. Never Condemn.

         Don't use phrase like, "You always..." or "You never..."

         Such exaggerations are not true and don't leave much room

            for change.

         Leave the condemnation to God.

         It seems the seeds of divorce are sown long before a couple

            recites their wedding vows.

         Psychologists in Denver studied 100 couples over a 13-year


         Their research shows certain relationship skills -- or the lack

            of them -- can predict whether two people are headed for

               marital bliss or a painful breakup.

         And this pattern was evident before the marriage ever took


         Those headed for divorce were more likely to make negative

            comments about the relationship or the partner.

         And it's not that the happily married couples are perfect.

         One researcher commented, "It wasn't that the couples who are

            happy never undermined or insulted their partners.

         They just did it less."


         Jerry Harvill writes about words that hurt, versus words that


               That won't work.

               Let's try it

               You'll never make it.

               You can do it

               Can't you do anything right?

               Let me help you

               You never . . .

               Sometimes you . . .

               You always . . .

               Sometimes you . . .

               Use your head for once.

               Let's think this through.

               Are you going to wear that?

               I think your blue shirt looks better with those pants.

               You drive me crazy!

               Help me understand you.


      C. Never Command.

         Don't try to end an argument by force.

            "I demand that you do what I say!"

            "If you don't do this, then I will do this..."

         Don't try to be a parent to your spouse, treating them like

            a little kid.  They aren't.

      D. Never Challenge.

         Don't make threats.

            "Just try that and see what happens!"

         Are you prepared to follow it up?

            Would the consequences be worth it?

         The three most common threats in marriage are:

            sex, money, divorce.

         Rule those out as deadly weapons in your marriage.

         Don't threaten to withhold sex, or go blow all the money, or

            go see a lawyer.

         This is a mark of immaturity.

      E. Never Condescend.

         Never treat that person as less than they really are,

            as an inferior.

         Don't put them down.

         Don't ridicule them for their feelings or their logic.

         Above all, don't play psychologist.

           "I know why you said that...you said that because..."

         Most of us have a difficult enough time figuring out our own

            motives much less figure out another person's.

      F. Never Contradict.

         Never interrupt in the middle of a sentence.

            When we do that we are not really listening.

         Treat each other with consideration.

         "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to

            become angry." (James 1:19)

      G. Never Confuse.

         This is when you bring up unrelated issues in the middle of

            the argument.

         Often you do this intentionally to sidetrack people.

         A perfect example in the Bible is the woman at the well.

         When Jesus began talking about her spiritual needs, she brought

            up divisive religious issues.

         It wasn't until Jesus brought up her secret life that she

            caved in to him.

         In any conversation - or argument - stick with the main issue.

            Don't confuse people.

IV. Your greatest gift.

      A. Words can be mean, but they can also be good.

          1) This is why our covenant calls them a gift.

      B. The power of encouragement.

          1) Ephesians 4:29 - build people up.

          2) You can always find something positive to say.

             It was Friday morning and a young businessman finally

                decided to ask his boss for a raise.

             Before leaving for work, he told his wife what he was about

                to do.

             All day long he felt nervous and apprehensive.

             Finally, in the late afternoon, he summoned the courage to

                approach his employer, and to his delight, the boss

                   agreed to the raise.

             The happy husband arrived home to find a beautiful table

                set with their best china and lighted candles.

             He figured that someone from the office had called his wife

                and tipped her off.

             Finding her in the kitchen, he eagerly shared the details

                of his good news.

             They embraced and danced around the room before sitting

                down to the wonderful meal his wife had prepared.

             Next to his plate he found an artistically lettered note

                that read, "Congratulations, darling!

             I knew you'd get the raise!

                This dinner is to show you how much I love you."

             Later on his way to the kitchen to help his wife serve

                dessert, he noticed that a second card had fallen from

                   her pocket.

             Picking it up off the floor, he read,

                "Don't worry about not getting the raise!

                    You deserve it anyway!

                 This dinner is to show how much I love you."


      C. Appreciation is appreciated.

            A few years ago Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of

               Nebraska conducted a group of studies called the "Family

                  Strengths Research Project."

            Stinnett and his researchers identified six qualities that

               make for strong families.

            The first quality and one of the most important to be found

               in strong families was the quality of appreciation.

            Families that are strong are strong in part, Dr. Stinnett

               concludes, because family members express to each other

                  their appreciation for what the other members DO and

                     for who they ARE.

            In a similar study another researcher looked into the

               effect of praise in the workplace.

            His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in

               the workplace needs to be four to one before employees

                  feel that there is a balance.

            There must be four times as much praise as there is

               criticism before they feel good about their work.


            What has your ratio been lately?

            John Wooden, the great U.C.L.A. basketball coach, told his

               players that when they scored, they were to smile, wink

                  or nod to the player who had passed them the ball.

            A team member asked, "What if he's not looking?"

            Wooden replied, "I guarantee he'll look."


      D. T.H.I.N.K. before you speak.

         Alan Redpath once formed a "mutual encouragement" fellowship

            at a time of stress in one of his churches.

         The members agreed to follow a simple formula before speaking

            of any person or subject that was perhaps controversial.

             T - Is it true?

             H - Is it helpful?

             I - Is it inspiring?

             N - Is it necessary?

             K - Is it kind?

         If what we are about to say does not pass these tests, we

            should keep our mouth shut.

         It works!


  V. Does your tongue honor Christ?



# 1030  "The Fine Art Of Encouragement," by Mark Littleton, Reader's Digest,

           November 1989, page 141.

# 2635  "A Pastor's Mutual Encouragement Fellowship," by Alan Redpath in

           "A Passion For Preaching," August 20, 1990, page 33. 

           David Holwick Illustration Collection.

#17851  "I Love You Anyway," by Dr. Joe Harding, Chicken Soup of the Day

           (internet daily email), January 7, 2003.  David Holwick

           Illustration Collection.

#24166  "A Man Who Says He Loves God…," by Gordon MacDonald.  Abe Kudra

           Illustration Collection.

#28291  "'We're Done' Can Be Predicted Before 'I Do'," by Kathleen Doheny,

           Yahoo.com "Health Day," August 19, 2004.

           David Holwick Illustration Collection.

#28322  "Seven Rules For Fighting Fair In Marriage," by Rev. Dan Warkentin,

           Discovery Church (Mennonite Brethren) of Pitt Meadows, British

           Columbia, Canada.  David Holwick Illustration Collection.

           Adapted from his sermon "How To Restore Harmony In Your Home,"

           sermon #16946 in the Kerux database.

#28668  "Gratitude - A Necessary Attitude," by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild,

           www.sermoncentral.com weekly email newsletter, November 15, 2004.

           David Holwick Illustration Collection.

#30708  "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal," by Jerry Harvill, Discipleship

           Journal #46, Jul-Aug 1988. David Holwick Illustration Collection.

These and 25,000 others are part of a database that can be downloaded,

absolutely free, at http://www.holwick.com/database.html


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