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Lesson 5: Lord of Our Speech *

Introduction: Would you like to discover the "elixir of life?" This week I was at Disneyland and the theme there is being happy. Are you looking for a happy life? Who would not? For just a moment I want you to think back to the most embarrassing, unpleasant times of your life. Were your words (or the words of someone else) involved in creating your embarrassment? Chances are that they were. Our study this week looks at how submitting our speech to God improves the quality of our life. Let's jump in!

  1. Loving Life

    1. Read Psalms 34:12. Are you part of this "whoever?"

    2. Read Psalms 34:13 and 1 Peter 3:10. As you can see, Peter repeats this formula that God first inspired in King David.

      1. What do you think it means to "keep your tongue from evil?"

        1. The first important word is "keep." What does that suggest? (It suggests that the natural inclination of our tongue is to speak evil. We need to resist that inclination.)

        2. What would be "tongue evil?" (Attacking someone with your words. Using language to obtain an unfair advantage over someone else.)

      2. The second part of this direction is fairly straight-forward: don't lie.

      3. Do you make it a practice to be alert to what you say about others?

    3. Why would evil speaking and lying be the first thing that David and Peter would mention in connection with securing a happy life? (Our words can create all sorts of trouble for us.)

      1. Read 1 Peter 3:8-9. Moving back a verse helps us to better understand Peter's line of logic. What connection does Peter see between our words and the quality of our life? (Peter sees that our words are an important factor creating harmony in our life.)

      2. Is harmony always good? When I was a young man I worked on construction. I saw some bosses who were bullies and I determined I would never treat anyone "below me" in the workplace like that. Many years later, a bully came to work in my organization. He would mistreat the employees "under" him. Because I disapproved of this, but was not his boss, I would say funny, insulting things to him in front of the abused employees. The abused employees loved it and would quietly tell me so. Were my actions appropriate? (No. In 1 Peter 3:9 Peter says do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. I should have spoken with him about the problem or simply have shown him the better way to treat assistants. Instead, I was being like him.)

    4. Read Proverbs 22:11. What does it mean to "love a pure heart?" (Someone with pure motives.)

      1. What is "gracious speech?" (Kind, helpful speech.)

      2. Why would a king be a friend of someone like this? Don't powerful people want powerful people around them? Why would a king care about gracious speech? (The king knows that this person will be kind to him. The king desires to have people around him who are not a danger.)

        1. Would this advice apply to your work? Can you replace the word "king" with "your boss?" (Yes. If you would like to be the friend of your boss, you need to have pure motives and be kind and helpful in your speech.)

  2. Tongue Rescue

    1. Read Proverbs 12:6. In what way can the words of the wicked "lie in wait for blood?" (The wicked will say things that are designed to harm others.)

      1. Have you seen the speech of the righteous rescue them?

        1. If so, how? (If what you have said in the past has given you a reputation for being honest and kind to others, people will be inclined to believe you and disbelieve those who are trying to harm you with their speech.)

      2. Matthew Henry's commentary interprets this text differently. He suggests that the righteous can rescue those who are the intended victims of the wicked by speaking up for them. Is this part of the way a Christian should speak?

        1. What kind of obligation do we have to speak up for those who are being victimized by the wicked?

  3. Intelligence and the Tongue

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 5:3. How do your cares affect the number of your dreams? (When we are worried about something, we often dream about it. The more worries, the more dreams.)

      1. With what is the speech of a fool compared? (A dream.)

      2. What parallel is being made between cares and words? (If you have a lot of cares you have a lot of dreams. If you have a lot of words, you are likely a fool.)

        1. Have you found this to be true in your life? (For some reason, foolish people like to hear themselves speak. They would be better off to remain silent and have people be uncertain whether they are fools.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 5:2. Does this refer to our prayers? Would it include public prayers?

      1. In our church we have a praise and prayer time. This is very popular, but it often extends into the time for the sermon. The time is not so much taken up by those asking for prayer, as with those who are giving informal "mini sermons" to the rest of us. What lesson do we find in this text for those who like to give unofficial, impromptu sermons?

  4. Speech in Action

    1. Read 1 Tim 4:12. When Paul is giving Timothy instructions about his ministry, we see that he tells him to set an example in several areas. The first area in which he should be an example is in his speech. Why do you think Paul lists speech first? (Studies show that when you first meet someone, you form an impression of them within the first few minutes. I have read the time is the first 90 seconds. Most of this impression is based on what we say and the way in which we say it. If our goal is to influence people for Christ, we need to be alert to the impression we are making through our speech.)

    2. Read Titus 2:7-8. When you teach the Bible, your speech is obviously important. Although I do not generally write humorous lines into the lessons, when I teach the lesson I use humor. Is this wrong? What does Paul mean when he instructs us to teach with serious and sound speech? (Instead of seriousness, the Living Bible says show "you are in dead earnest about it." I think that makes the point. God's word is not a joke. However, humor helps to maintain the attention of the audience. When you get to the Biblical point you are making, your students should understand you are earnest about it.)

    3. Read James 3:3-5. Why is our tongue compared to a rudder or a horse's bit? (A rudder or a bit control the larger body.)

      1. Is James saying that our tongue also influences us? (That seems to be precisely what he is saying.)

    4. Read James 3:6. What is within the power of our speech? (James teaches that our speech can corrupt us.)

      1. Why is that? (We are influenced by what we hear. (Ellen White, in her book The Desire of Ages (pp. 323-324), suggests that when we are tempted, we sometimes say things that we do not really believe. However, just expressing something we do not believe helps to imprint it in our mind. We can come to the point where we believe something that we did not originally believe - just because we kept re-enforcing it by our speech.)

    5. Read Psalms 9:1-2. What blessing comes to us from praising God as David did? (This is another way in which our speech helps to change our thoughts. It reinforces our love towards God.)

    6. Friend, a Christian's speech turns out to be very important to serving God. Will you pray today to make your speech subject to God's will?

  1. Next week: Lord of Our Prayers.

* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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