April 29, 2018
By Ed Young
Humans, unlike any other creatures, have the unique ability to communicate specifically and strategically with one another through words. But have you ever stopped to consider what your words actually say? As Pastor Ed Young continues this teaching series on the book of Proverbs, he helps us not only understand and unpack the power of our words, but also shows us how to use our words to make a lasting difference in the world around us!
Wow, it’s so great to see everyone here. Good morning! I’m here in the Magic city of Miami, our beautiful Miami campus. We have campuses all over the place. We have one right near Sarasota in North Port. Let’s do a big shout out to our other Florida campus! And of course, Dallas/Fort Worth, and these are kind of strange names, I know, to you guys. Prosper/Celina, I love it. It’s an awesome area. Then we have Southlake/Keller, gorgeous Grapevine. That’s where we do a lot of stuff, so I want to say welcome! You guys doing well? All right, so am I. So am I.
Today we’re continuing this series called Fool. That’s an interesting title, isn’t it? I’m talking about the Bible, I’m talking about the book of Proverbs and I’m talking about fool.
What does it mean to be a fool? I think we all have done foolish things in our lives. We’ve done those things that we were going, man, that was just not very bright. That was foolish. The word fool means to be open. You’re kind of open to anything and everything. When I do something foolish I go with my emotions and I kind of go along with the crowd. And I think I know what’s up and I do this or that. When I’m foolish, though, when I take the path of foolishness I pay for it. I run the stadium steps of regret and shame. And I think we can all go, “Man, Ed, I have.”
Do you have our church app? If you have our church app, lift your hand at all of our campuses. Our church app is amazing. If you don’t I’m going to give you 10 seconds to download our app. You might be going, “What is an app?” You’re probably a baby boomer asking that question. That’s OK. Look for a millennial. That’s someone with a scoop shirt on and kind of wild hair, ink all over their body, skinny jeans, that’s a millennial. They might be sipping coffee right now. Just ask them, “How do I download this app?” Go to the app store, type in Fellowship Church. You’ll see “get.” I’ll give you some time. <whistling… beat boxing>
My notes are on the app today. You can follow along with me. We write a devotional every day, it’s called The 90-second Devotional. You can watch messages and join us online if you’re traveling or sick. That’s the only time you can do that. But our app is awesome.
So let’s jump right into what I’m talking about. What am I talking about? I’m talking about talk, that’s what I’m talking about. The book of Proverbs talks a lot about talk. The Bible talks a lot about talk.
We average 30 conversations a day, 30 conversations a day. We send and receive an average of 128 texts per day. Americans send 18.7 billion texts per day. If you took the entire U.S. of A., 18 billion texts a day!
So we’re all about words, are we not? We’re all about conversation. We’re all about this gift of communication that God has given us. Words are wonderful. They can be awesome, but also words can be horrible, they can be filled with hate. Words can be wonderful, they can also start wars. Think about just for a second Adolph Hitler. His words led to the extermination of millions of Jews. Think about Martin Luther King, Jr. His words led to freedom and equality. Think about Winston Churchill. Think about Fidel Castro, what he did to the beautiful country of Cuba with his words. Abraham Lincoln, you, and me.
Your words. What are your words saying about you? Think about God’s algorithm as he looks at the trends and looks at all the math behind it. How are you doing in your conversation? What are you doing with your words?
I want to talk about three things today. You can travel along with me on our app that you just downloaded. First of all, I’m going to talk to you about the wonder of words. Secondly, I’ll spend a brief amount of time talking about the way of words, and then I’ll wrap it up talking about the wisdom of words. Are you feeling me? Nod your heads, yeah. OK, OK, OK.
Now let’s talk about the wonder of words. What is a word? What is a word? Well, I came up with this acrostic. Words: Wonderful Opportunities to Relate Dynamically to Someone about Something. That’s what a word is. A wonderful opportunity to relate dynamically to someone about something.
Words. We’re made in the image of God. God is a God of the word. This book, the Bible, is called the Word of God. God speaks to us through words. He could have made us communicate with smoke signals, with Morse code, with – I don’t know – drum beats, with grunts and groans. What did God do, though? We’re unlike any other creature. We have the ability to speak. Have you ever thanked God for the wonder of words? If you haven’t, we’re going to do that right now. On the count of 3 I want us all to say “thank you, God, for words!” everybody out loud. 1-2-3… Thank you, God, for words! Yeah! I love it!
Words are important, words are huge. What did God do? God created the heavens and the earth with his word. The Bible says he spoke the word into existence. Jesus is called the Word. John 1:1, “In the beginning was the (say it with me) Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Your words.
Think about the words, the words you said already today to your spouse, to that person you’re dating, to maybe an usher, to someone who greeted you at all of our campuses in the parking lot. Think about the words you said to your grandfather, your parent. Think about what you said to your child. Think about what you said last week to the teacher, the coach. Words, words, words. Do you analyze your words? How about this spiritual algorithm, what is God seeing? What is trending in your life and in my life?
You know it’s funny as you think about people and the words that we speak. You have on one end or one side of the continuum the over-talker. Do you know any over-talkers? I mean <garbled speaking> An over talker just talks and talks and talks some more. And over-talkers don’t realize they’re over-talkers, but let me say something to the over-talker. If you see someone avoiding you, or when you walk up they act like they’re having this conversation on their phone, you’re probably an over-talker. Over-talkers just change subjects effortlessly from this subject to that subject. You might be talking about, man, those are cool jeans! Where did you get those jeans? And 5 minutes later you’re talking about breeding English Mastiffs in Northern California. What?! You’re talking to an over-talker.
Now on the other end of the continuum you have the under-talker.
ILLUS: One time I interviewed someone at Fellowship Church and this person was a card-carrying under-talker. We had a massive crowd. I remember it, we had over 27,000 people that weekend. So she was like the star of the weekend. Christian lady, so I’m thinking “This is going to be a great interview! I mean, this is just going to go!” Because whenever I interview someone I try not to meet them beforehand.
So she comes out on stage, standing ovation, she sits down. I felt like… I felt like I had done 4 or 5 CrossFit workouts back to back after I finished interviewing her. I mean, I was just pulling stuff out, and she wouldn’t respond and she would be like, “a-hahaha. Like, I don’t, like, know. Like, I don’t, like, understand, what you’re like, saying, but like…”
I said to myself, “We have 27,000 people here listening to an under-talker!” You don’t know where they’re coming from really. They don’t really communicate.
Now there are other talkers, too. Have you ever talked to a whistle-talker? Kind of whistles? Yes, I love the book of Proverbssssss. It saysssss a lot of stuff about life. Amazing. Do you know any whistle talkers? Just kind of whistle with them. <whistling> Then you have the soft talkers. Do you know any soft talkers? You might be a soft talker. And people are always going, “What?! Uh, come back? I couldn’t quite get…” You’re a soft talker. I thought about doing an entire message one time talking like this to see what people would think, and some people are soft talkers.
Then you have the fader. A fader is someone that is tough because they start out strong. They’ll be like, “Hi! How’re you doing? I hope your…. <quieter> day went well.” How are you feeling? Oh, I’m feeling fine. The other day I went out and …<quiet>. The old fader.
Then – OK, guilty here – the loud talker. My whole life I’ve been told, “Ed, turn the volume down! The decibel level is driving me nuts!”
Then you have the southern talker. I’m from the South so I can make fun of the South. Now, some people think Southern people talk like this, and this is incorrect. “Yeah, well, how you doing, man? Good to see ya. I’m from the South.”
That’s not the way they talk. Southern talkers ramp up and the last part of their sentences, they end their sentences kind of high and they talk through the nose like this. And if you really want to talk to someone from South Carolina or North Carolina, well they kind of go up and high. And it’s really interesting to talk to ‘em.
Then you have… how many people have seen the movie “The Greatest Showman”? Have you seen that? I’m not really big on musicals but some people kind of sing talk. Have you noticed that before? Like especially some women. They’ll talk…. <singing> You’re singing! A sing-talker!
Oh, then in Miami, also here this is popular. It’s also popular everywhere, Dallas, too. The F-Bomber. <boom-boom> Just dropping those f-bombs. And people use f-bombs as verbs and subjects and transitional phrases. I’m thinking, like, “Man you must think about sexual intercourse all the time!”
What if you, instead of saying that word, what if you just said ‘sexual intercourse.’ What in the sexual intercourse are you doing? That’s how stupid it is. This is vulgar language man, it breaks the heart of God, you f-bombers. I’ve had people tell me something in church and drop the f-bomb. Carpet bombing! <boom-boom> wow.
And then of course, hey, how do you like this. This is an underwater Bible, a waterproof Bible. I promise you. I stole it from my wife. Can you steal a Bible? Anyway, here’s what I do. When I’m swimming laps I’m so spiritual I will read this <bubbling sound effect> . Yeah, so you need to have an underwater Bible. Some people are water-talkers. They talk <bubbling> . And I don’t know where you fit into this continuum, but Proverbs has something for you and for me. It really, really does.
Let’s talk about the way of words. We talked about the different way, and different ways that we communicate. Oh! Here’s another one! Let me just throw in one more that gets on my nerves. The close talker. That person that just, there’s no personal space. Close talkers are sly. They’ll start out at a normal, you know, a normal pace or a normal amount of space between you and the other party. Then they’ll get closer and closer and closer.
And there’s this one guy, thankfully he doesn’t go to Fellowship any more, and he would start out – I’m serious – and he would kind of pin me against the wall. But here’s what you do the close talker. If they come in on you, you just step towards them and it blocks them. And you say just right here. And then also, you’re ready right here. Boom! Into the solar plexus, and that’ll shut them up. Anyway. You know, I’m kidding you. Come on. Some are like, is he serious? I’m just joking! But some people do invade. I call them Space Invaders, that space, you know? Others talk way out here. Hey, what’s up!
So let’s talk about the way of words. Three things. Here’s what Proverbs says: Limit your words. It doesn’t mean to turn into a soft talker, but it says limit your words. It doesn’t mean to stop talking, to be an under-talker, limit your words. “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut,” Proverbs 21:23 says, “and you’ll stay out of trouble.”
How many times in my life have I gone, “Ed, you’re such a fool. You’re such a card-carrying fool. You’ve taken the path of folly, you talk too much. And now I’m running the stadium steps of regret and shame. Have you ever been in that situation before? I have. If you’re not lifting your hand you’re lying. We have a lot of liars here in Miami, and also that’ll be another subject, lying. And we’ll talk about that, too.
Proverbs 15:28 says, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.”
So I need to think before speaking, before I open my mouth, I need to think. Well, how do we do that? Once a person becomes a follower of Christ, and once we receive Jesus we receive the Word, correct? So the Holy Spirit of God, Jesus places the Holy Spirit in our lives, when we’re talking the Holy Spirit is going to warn us. It’s almost like a teleprompter. He’s going to teach us an guide us. It’s that voice. I don’t mean an audible voice but something deeper than that, that speaks to your spirit and mine. He will tell you you’ve said enough. Don’t talk any more. A conversation is a two-way street. Shut up. Let the other person talk. Look the other person in the eyes. Ask them questions. Get involved in this conversational cadence.
Too many of us talk too much, and there’s a correlation with talking too much and getting into trouble. There are over 105 verses in the book of Proverbs that talk about this. Isn’t that amazing? Words. Words. Man, they’re so, so powerful! Wonderful (they should be) Opportunities (from God) to Relate Dynamically (no other creature is like the human being) to someone or something.
Not only should our words be limited, they should be legit. They should be honest. And I’m going to do a whole talk on lying in this series. I hope you keep showing up. Don’t think, like, “Oh man it’s so negative!” Because it’s going to be positive when I talk about lying, because the Bible at the end of the day is a positive book. There are some negative aspects to it. I mean, the gospel for example. The gospel is not all positive. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, right? Rose again. But for us to become a believer we’ve got to admit the negative. I’m a sinner, I’m fallen and fallible. That’s the negative part, correct? But what Jesus had to do, obviously he did it because of his irrational, unfathomable love, then we receive that and that’s the most positive thing we can do. But don’t ever say that everything in the Bible, or everything about our words is all positive because God gets up in our grill about our words.
He says our words should be true. Proverbs 12:22, “The Lord detests lying lips but he delights in people who are trustworthy.” Man, what does that mean? I think we know what it means.
Look at Proverbs 25:18, “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with a (what?) axe (man, I wish the Bible was straightforward) wounding them with a sword or shooting them with a sharp arrow.”
Isn’t that true? I mean, I’ve said things to Lisa. I’ve said things to my kids. I’ve said things to co-workers. I’ve said things to people who have cut me off in traffic. I’ve said things to authority figures and I’m like, wow. That was an axe. That was a sword. That was an arrow. Our words are powerful, are they not? Make sure your words are honest.
John 8:44, “He (talking about Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks (what? li-ese, right? He speaks his native language) lies, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When I’m speaking in conversation, one of the 30 I have every day, I’m tempted sometimes to lie – to exaggerate, to embellish, to leave something out, to twist the truth. So are you. Don’t act like you’re not. Just go ahead and … uh-huh. Again, all of our campuses are videoed. Just go ahead. Uh-huh. All of us, yes all of us. Yet the Holy Spirit of God is taking someone like me and he has turned me into a truth-teller. Not perfectly, no, not perfectly. More and more as I walk with God I’m sensitive to his spirit. I can be even preaching or talking to Lisa or talking to a friend of mine, and I’m about to say something that is a little bit … an exaggeration. And the Holy Spirit will like, “Ed, don’t say what you’re getting ready to say. That’s not true. I mean, that fish did not weigh 75 pounds. It weighed about 52 pounds.”
But they’ll think I’m a better fisherman if I give the bigger number! We play that game, just quickly, quickly. And more and more I’m listening to the voice of the Spirit of God. And most of the times I do this. Not perfectly! When I listen to that Spirit, that prompting, and when I say a truth I feel and know the heart of God, and I know God smiles. That’s right. And it helps me to have people in my life who will tell me after a sermon of whatever, “You know, what you said about the under-talker…” but you know what? I know it’s true. People who were there, I will not mention this girl’s name, know it’s true. So nothing I said was an embellishment. And I felt that tired afterwards. Sometimes I’ve said something that was not true and it’s not pretty. It always leads to trouble. You tell another lie, and another lie.
Are you lying? Are you lying to your spouse? Lying to your kids? Lying to your parents? Lying to your co-worker? Exaggeration, innuendo, leaving stuff out? I mean, I’ve even come face-to-face with industrial strength serial liars, that will look you in the eye and I’m talking, just lie! It’s scary, man. It hurts the heart of God because our condition was caused by the telling and believing of a lie. Go back to the book of Genesis. Make sure your words are words of honesty. Make sure you limit your words. Make sure your words are legit. And then, make sure your words are life-giving.
I can give life-giving words to people. Proverbs 10:11, let’s read it together again, 1-2-3, “The words of the godly are a life-giving (<bubbling> let’s say that like I did.. yeah) fountain.
And Proverbs talks about that we can gush truth. We just gush it. Again, it all goes back to God. Without him I can’t do this. He is the Word of God, the God of the word. He gives me words. I’m made in his image to communicate wonderful opportunities to relate dynamically to someone.
All right, let’s talk about the wisdom of words. The wisdom of words, and this is the last thing I’m going to say. I want to share with you some power phrases, you know, power phrases that will change your life today. The first phrase: please. Not please! No. Please. It’s a polite request.
ILLUS: Yesterday morning I was eating at a little hole-in-the-wall diner for breakfast. I’m sitting at the bar, had my notes spread out, studying words. And I was just listening to people as they walked into the restaurant. And I listened to the words they said when they ordered food. “Uh, gimme scrambled eggs… no, no, do you have biscuits. OK, I’ll take some toast.” I mean, just like the mood is rude. I thought, “Where’s please? Where’s a polite request?” Please, please.
The Scriptures implore us in so many areas to be gentle, not gentle/weak, snowflake, but check this out. Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer deflects anger but harsh words make tempers flare.”
What do you do when those veins are popping out of someone’s head? The decibels have been doubled, they’re kind of bowed up, showing their teeth. What do you do? What do you do? You better incorporate please. You better incorporate this one: thank you. I didn’t say, “no problem.” Please, I beg you, don’t say no problem. That’s awful! It’s a double negative! No problem. Where did that come from?
Thank you. Have you ever said thank you to God for words? Did you ever say thank you to your spouse for what she does or for what he does? “Oh, they already know it.” No, they don’t. I mean, I can live on one compliment for a couple of months.
People sometimes say, “I know you hear it all the time…” and I go, “No, I don’t. Bring it on.” Because I don’t. Are you saying thank you at restaurants? Have you ever said thank you to a police officer? Have you ever said thank you to a fireman? Have you ever said thank you to your mom? Thank you to a friend? Thank you. How about thank you to your mother who carried you for 9 months. Have you ever done that? Thank you. It’s huge! See, it doesn’t work. “No problem.” You carried me for 9 months. Oh, there were problems. Have you ever heard of labor?
I’m proud of you. Now, guys, we’re weak. We act like we’re not, but we are. Women understand who they are, I think, better than men do. Women will admit their weaknesses quicker than we will. But we’re really weaker than women. But in this machismo culture, no! Not me, man! I’m the man! Please. Playah! If you’re a girlfriend or a wife, you tell him, “I’m proud of you.” Man… you tell him that, you tell your son, you tell your coworker, you tell that friend I’m proud of you. You want to change your company? Your classroom? You want to change your practice?
I’m sorry. Those are some other words. I’m sorry. I’m not talking about what some lawyer will draft or some pseudo-apology for some celebrity to read on TMZ. I’m not talking about that crap. Those aren’t apologies. A true apology is: I’m sorry. I was wrong. Not, “Hey, man, I’m sorry if I offended you.” If I say that I’m saying man, you’re an idiot. You’re an emotional wreck. That’s not an apology. That’d be like us saying, “Hey Jesus, I’m sorry if I offended you.” Are you saying that regularly? Strategically? Intentionally?
Last one, and this is probably the most life-changing one maybe right now, when you get in a situation where you’re feeling the temperature rise, where there’s a (I love this) miscommunication? We love that word, don’t we? What do you say? Here’s what you say: Help me understand where you’re coming from. You will not believe what that will do to the beginning stages of conflict. You have some people that report to you in some way, shape, or form. Maybe you’re a mom, maybe you’re a dad, maybe you’re a CEO of whatever, maybe you’re a surgeon. I don’t know what you are. An attorney, a pastor, help me understand. And all of a sudden you’ll have communication and connectivity and it will be phenomenal.
WORDS. Wonderful Opportunities to Relate Dynamically to Someone. Jesus is the Word. If you want to talk about a wonderful opportunity to relate dynamically to someone, that’s Jesus. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, something we don’t deserve, rose again, and he offers you eternal life. And you can have eternal life just by giving him the word. Have you given him your word?
[Ed closes in prayer]