Skip to main content
#
Swift Presbyterian Church
 

    Welcome
    Worship
    Our church
    The latest...
      Coming up
      Yearn to learn
      Connect|serve
      Mission|outreach
      Giving
      We ask...
      Site map
       

      Sunday sermons 

      This sermon was preached by Pastor Jody Beth Melton at Swift Presbyterian Church.

      Building Others Up
      Ephesians 4:21–5:2
      Sept. 18, 2016

       T HE “PRAISE THE LORD” HORSE (from various sources on Internet searches):

      A preacher trained his horse to go when he said “Praise the Lord” and to stop when he said “Amen.” The preacher mounted the horse and said “Praise the Lord” and went for a ride. When he wanted to stop for lunch, he said “Amen.” He took off again, saying “Praise the Lord.” The horse started going toward the edge of a cliff. The preacher got excited and said “Whoa! Whoa!” Then he remembered and said “Amen” and the horse stopped at the edge of the cliff. The preacher was so relieved and grateful that he looked up to heaven and said “Praise the Lord!”

       † † † 

      ►Words To Strengthen and Encourage

      Our words are powerful. The Word of the Lord is more powerful.

      Today we look at one of the letters that Paul wrote from prison. Many of his letters are written to admonish and correct new believers, but from the form of this letter, we believe that Paul was writing to strengthen and encourage the believers in the church at Ephesus.

      Within the six chapters are tucked away some powerful, practical “how to live as a Christian” verses. Many of these were read today.

      ● Put off your old, corrupt self; put on your new self.
      ● Speak truthfully.
      ● In your anger, do not sin. (Notice the acknowledgment that we do get angry. Anger is not a sin — how we respond or react to anger can become sinful).
      ● Don’t steal. Work and share with those in need.
      ● Get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, malice.
      ● Be kind and compassionate. Forgive others.

      Ephesians 4:29

      And, the verse I skipped over. Verse 29:

      ● Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

      This verse is the meat of today’s message. It is also the first verse I ever memorized. I taped it to my bathroom mirror, my steering wheel, and my desk at the conference center where I worked. I chose this verse when I was in my early 30s, when I first began to read the Bible, because I knew that unwholesome talk was coming from me — at work, at home, in the thoughts in my head.

       † † † 

      ►Failing Miserably

       A few days ago, while failing miserably at living up to this verse once again, I asked Philip, “How am I possibly going to preach on this verse when, after over 20 years, I’m still not doing this?”

      Philip has a way of defusing a situation with humor and grace that I find admirable. He simply looked up, smiled a warm, kind smile, and said to me: “Practice, practice, practice.” J He was acknowledging that I wasn’t being kind with my words, directed at him, while lightening the moment with humor. And, extending grace. I was wrong, I ought to have been asking him for forgiveness, and instead of lashing back at me for the way I was speaking to him at that moment, he chose love. He chose to love me and forgive me, before I even asked for forgiveness. He chose to love me. To show love to me.

       † † † 

      ►God’s Love

      In the end, or shall I say in the beginning, God loves. God loves us just as we are, with all our flaws and outright sins. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. We need to be reminded of John 3:16: That God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. And we also need to be reminded of John 3:17: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

      I give the reminder of God’s love as we look deeper into Ephesians 4:29. Because as we do, you may find that like me, you have struggled in living up to its directive. I’m going to talk about it in two parts: What Paul is telling us not to do, and what to do.

      ● Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths….

      What is meant by unwholesome talk? I won’t ask for a show of hands … swear words, lies, assigning blame, hateful remarks, offensive statements, criticism, remarks intended to bring someone down, little “digs.” Have you gossiped, slandered, or criticized? Have you been a bully? Have you spoken with rage, or gone on a long, loud rant? Have you remained silent yet said more words with your facial expression and posture than if you had spoken?

      Statement: “I’m going to go shopping with my mom Saturday morning.”

      Response: “Fine.” (with a smile and nod).

      Alternate response: “Fine.” (with beady eyes and hands on hips). [Did you remember we were going to work in the yard together?]

      This part of the verse can be difficult for many of us to hear. We know that unwholesome talk has come out of our mouths. Sometimes we catch ourselves right away, other times we are oblivious to the hurtful things we have said. We know we must to strive to do better. Which isn’t easy. As I mentioned, I’ve past the 20-year mark and I’m still trying. Practice, practice, practice.

      ● But only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.

      Which brings us to the second part of the verse: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths … but only that which is helpful for building others up according to their needs….”

      We live in a society of people that are quick to judge one another.

      Math example (from various sources on Facebook): Teacher writes on board 9 x 1, 9 x 2, etc., and purposely puts wrong answer for 9 x 1. All the students quickly notice and say something and poke fun at her for her mistake. She uses as way to teach self-esteem. In the world, people will always be judging you and looking for your failures. You all pointed out my one error. Not one of you told me that the other nine calculations were correct. No matter who well you do, people will try to knock you down. You must celebrate your successes.

      Personal seminary student example: Pastor literally looked down his nose, over his bifocals, and told me, “You know, you have to be smart to go to seminary.” That impacted my confidence. Years later, told another pastor who said, “I’m so glad nobody told me that, because I’m don’t consider myself to be smart and I made it through.”

      The Bible teaches us to lift one another up. To celebrate others’ successes. In business management in the ’80s, they called it “catch them doing something right.” And say something. We are called as the body of Christ to build one another up.

       † † † 

      How do we build others up?

      All of the opposites of unwholesome talk can be ways to build others up. Do not swear, tell the truth, consider your part when thinking of blaming someone else, say kind things, and say things kindly.

      Stop to consider what you are about to say — or write (FB, text, etc.). Is this kind, is it true, is it necessary to say? And, from a sermon of mine about eight years ago, I am reminded to “step away and pray” before saying something.

      Offer words of encouragement and support, like Paul taking the time to write this letter to the Ephesians.

      Use a soft, gentle voice when comforting someone. Offer forgiveness and act in a way that shows forgiveness, like Philip did for me. Sometimes to build others up, no words may be needed at all. We can consider our facial expressions and our body language.

       † † † 

      We live in a society of people that are quick to judge one another.

      Math example (from various sources on Facebook): Teacher writes on board 9 x 1, 9 x 2, etc., and purposely puts wrong answer for 9 x 1. All the students quickly notice and say something and poke fun at her for her mistake. She uses as way to teach self-esteem. In the world, people will always be judging you and looking for your failures. You all pointed out my one error. Not one of you told me that the other nine calculations were correct. No matter who well you do, people will try to knock you down. You must celebrate your successes.

      Personal seminary student example: Pastor literally looked down his nose, over his bifocals, and told me, “You know, you have to be smart to go to seminary.” That impacted my confidence. Years later, told another pastor who said, “I’m so glad nobody told me that, because I’m don’t consider myself to be smart and I made it through.”

      The Bible teaches us to lift one another up. To celebrate others’ successes. In business management in the ’80s, they called it “catch them doing something right.” And say something. We are called as the body of Christ to build one another up.

       † † † 

      How do we build others up?

      All of the opposites of unwholesome talk can be ways to build others up. Do not swear, tell the truth, consider your part when thinking of blaming someone else, say kind things, and say things kindly.

      Stop to consider what you are about to say — or write (FB, text, etc.). Is this kind, is it true, is it necessary to say? And, from a sermon of mine about eight years ago, I am reminded to “step away and pray” before saying something.

      Offer words of encouragement and support, like Paul taking the time to write this letter to the Ephesians.

      Use a soft, gentle voice when comforting someone. Offer forgiveness and act in a way that shows forgiveness, like Philip did for me. Sometimes to build others up, no words may be needed at all. We can consider our facial expressions and our body language.

       † † † 

      ►The Help

      The movie The Help from five years ago has quote. Remember the nanny Aibileen, who cared for Elizabeth’s daughter, Mae Mobley? Do you remember what she told the little girl? You may not remember the three things she said again and again, but you probably remember that she always looked at Mae Mobley at her eye level, smiled the most kind and sincere smile, held the girl gently by the hands or arm, or sometimes, with tears of compassion, held her tight. And she told her:

      “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” (from various sources on Internet searches)

      In Aibileen’s words and through her posture, we all felt we were kind, and smart, and important. And we are. Together, we are the body of Christ.

       † † † 

      ►Practice, practice, practice

      Church family — We can be hard on each other. Remember, hospital for sinners, not museum for saints. Practice, practice, practice.

      Work and school — Not all are believers, but all are watching those of us who are. Show God’s love in our words and actions. Co-workers. Teachers. Other students.

      Students: If you are being bullied, tell an adult you trust. You are kind, and smart, and important. And you are a child of God. God loves you and wants you to be loved. Do not believe any other kids — or adults — who say mean things about you.

      Students: If you think you are being a bully, also tell an adult you trust. We want to help you. God loves you, and wants you to be loved, and to be a loving person. You can learn to say nice things and to be a friend. Practice, practice, practice.

      Families and spouses — Sometimes we show the least amount of love to those we love the most.
      (from various sources on Internet searches)

       † † † 

      When we are busy with school, and sports, and homework, and work, and housework, and caring for grandparents, and taking care of the kids and the bills and the laundry, and some adults are also going to school, and some kids think their parents ask them to do too much, and, and, and …. We all get tired. And some of us get grumpy. (If Philip were here, he’d be making one of his faces that make me laugh.)        

      Church family, love one another. Commit to using your words to build one another up. With your church family, at work and at school, in your homes. Support and encourage one another. You don’t have to do it alone; we have the power of the Holy Spirit to help us as we … practice, practice, practice.

      Amen.

      — Jody Beth Melton     

      Comments on sermons are welcomed and appreciated. 
      ← Click below to share this page with your friends on social media →


      A page with photos and a video clip:


         Find us on
        Facebook


       


      • Presbytery of S. Alabama
      • Synod of Living Waters



      Striving

      to bring

      God joy



      Swift  
      Presbyterian  
      Church
       

                   —————
      23208 Swift Church Road
      Foley, AL 36535
      Phone: (251) 943-8367
      email: swiftpc@gulftel.com


       

      powered by ChurchSquare