When we speak like Jesus, we will be pursuing the proper goal or purpose of building up others.
Gospel-focused communication will be spiritually constructive. This agrees with the purpose of discipleship, that is, of teaching disciples (Matthew 28:20; 1 Corinthians 12:7). God wants us to build up the body of believers. Talking like Jesus in constructive speech is part of your function in the spiritual body of Christ. The head (Christ) is sending out beneficial messages to each of his members, and we are to spread those beneficial messages to other members. This means we seek the improvement of the people of a local assembly (church) by the way we speak and what we speak. No sane contractor would seek to harm the building he was under contract to construct. Yet how many Christians pull others down by gossip, slander, cutting comments, or a simple lack of gentleness or compassion? And how few deliberately intend to help others improve spiritually, which is the point at hand? Building up one another rarely happens in a quick conversation on a Sunday morning. Such words can be constructive, but they are limited by time. Every Christian needs to be in a small group.
Constructive speech aims to build up, especially where the brother or sister in Christ has a need. What are some needs that we all have from time to time?
Rebuke (Galatians 2:14; Titus 1:13b)
Instruction (Acts 18:26)
Encouragement (Acts 11:23)
When we speak like Jesus, we will keep our words within some wise guidelines. The entire life of Jesus shows his use of wise words at all times. Will the way I am about to talk build up this person like Jesus does, or will it provoke sinful attitudes or responses? Here are some examples:
Is my communication sexually suggestive? Sex is a normal part of life. God created it! But improper words can arouse desires that should not be. Talk about sexual matters wisely.
Is my communication inducing the other person to anger? The point is to use some common sense to avoid words that are pushing the other person’s buttons.
Is my communication causing fear or doubts? Don’t spread despair amid the general gloom! TV newscasters are paid to spread doom and gloom, but wise words lead people to confident expectation (hope) in God.
What benefits does this conversation intend to seek in the heart and life my brother or sister in Christ? Have I thought this through before I speak? Actually what good will it do? To talk about some subjects with some people is an exercise in futility, because they do not what to listen or change. Consider Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:6). Can I turn this conversation in a spiritually profitable direction? Some cannot be, or it is not the time nor the place. We must use discernment; this requires skill. To what degree does this conversation display “true righteousness and holiness” (4:24)? Jesus our Lord used his words to teach about God the Father and to make us think with an eternal perspective. How are your words doing that?
In this article I want to build on some teachings about the Christian and the church that we all (should) know. But in writing to such a broad audience, it is impossible to know where you are in your spiritual growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord (2 Peter 3:18). But I hope you know the following:
The church is the spiritual body of Christ
Every follower of Christ is a member of his spiritual body
Everyone in Christ’s body shares many blessings: new life, a vital relationship with God, the position of an adult son, the standing of a royal priest, and the possession of one or more spiritual gifts to equip each one for ministry in the body
These truths have a global and local significance
Each of us is given a place in the body by the Holy Spirit. No Christian is left out (12:7). Every learner of Jesus has a significant place to fill. Our Sovereign Lord has formed each of us with a unique combination of personality, genetic material, family and ethnic heritage, personal experiences and spiritual gifts to display his glory in special ways. And each part of the body of Christ will be in the process of development or decline. This can be very complex! Surprising as it may sound; you might be improving in some areas and declining in others. What is your spiritual health?
Your place in Christ’s spiritual body is for the common good (12:7). We live in a very “me-centered” time. “What is in this local gathering of believers for me?” is the only question many seem to consider. Two basic questions about any assembly (church) are: Does it delight in God’s truth? Does it delight to love God and people? Yet countless professed believers will focus on a church’s programs, facilities, “demographics” (ethnicity, economic and educational levels, and age groupings), and other less important matters. However, the Holy Spirit wants us to understand that he places us in a local church “for the common good”. Yes, we all are needy people in various ways. So then, we dare not look at a church from the standpoint of “what is this church doing for me?” That attitude has crippled churches for years. I boldly ask, “What are you doing for the good of people in Christ with whom you share life?” I think that way of putting it unmasks one of the hindrances to the church in our time. Those who know the Lord Christ share life in him. We want to share our lives with others who know the Lord. Ask, “What can I do for the benefit of my brothers and sisters in the Lord?”
The Spirit equips each one for his or her place in the body (12:8-11). The Spirit of God does not thrust Christ’s people into positions unprepared. He gives each person special abilities to minister in the body for the common good. Consider Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11. Every member has a function to fulfill. For example, those gifted with the gift of showing mercy need to step in and do the job when there is a need for mercy. If you see a need in your fellowship of believers and think that you know how to meet that need, the Lord might be calling you to serve and to meet that need.
The Spirit determines what place each one has (12:11). This causes people discomfort. We want to fill a function in the church that we like, and we fail to appreciate others who are functioning to the best of their ability. There is no reason to “seek the gifts”, as many use the term, since the Spirit gives according to God’s own pleasure. We can be sure that the Lord has very good reasons for giving people the gifts that he does. This ought to cause us to appreciate and admire the Spirit’s will. We ought to rejoice in the way that the Lord has put his body together. Are you fulfilling a function in your local church? What is God doing through you? How does your ministry show forth the power of the ascended Christ by his Spirit?