I was listening to a CD tonight by Gary Ezzo, entitled “Speaking Life.” He gave two fictitious scenarios, each dealing with the same man who had fallen into sin during a tough time in his life. In the first scenario, Word of Truth Community Church passed judgment on him and disciplined him, permanently crushing him. As Gary Ezzo said, this church spoke words of death to this man.
In the second scenario, Words of Life Community Church spoke words of life as they reached out to him, attempting to find out why he was struggling, praying for him, and loving him back to Jesus. His vertical relationship to God was restored through confession and forgiveness, and his horizontal relationships were strengthened and confirmed. This church chose to speak words of life.
Which church would I rather attend? Yes, we must have “standards” of righteousness. But I’m reminded of Jesus’ words about forgiveness in Matthew 18, especially in verses 15-17. If someone sins, we are to go to him. (Galatians 6:1-3 reminds us of the correct attitude to have!) We might have to return with a friend or two, with the purpose of restoration (see 2 Corinthians 2). In the worst-case scenario, we will have to treat this brother as a heathen man and a publican.
But how did Jesus treat the heathen and the publicans?! He ministered to them. He ate with them. He showed them love! See a beautiful example of this in Luke 7:36-50. He spoke words of life.
I’ll close with the stern warning to speak only words of life that is given in James 4:11-12: “Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou are not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destory: who art thou that judgest another?”
Lord, may I speak only words of life today! Amen.