Rev. David Holwick G Church Covenant #6
First Baptist Church
Ledgewood, New Jersey
March 12, 2006
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.
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.
"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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
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.
V. Does your tongue honor Christ?
SOURCES FOR ILLUSTRATIONS USED IN THIS SERMON:
# 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
#24166 "A Man Who Says He Loves God…," by Gordon MacDonald. Abe Kudra
#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.
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