But now you must get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.

Colossians 3:8-10

Exodus 20:1-7; Colossians 3:1-10 “Talking the Talk”

  • Sermon Details
  • Pastor Name: Rev. Daniel J. Commerford
  • Date & Time: April17, 2016

With summer around the corner, I cannot help but looking back on some of my favorite summer memories. Without a doubt, some of the best memories I had came from the summer camp I attended when I was a kid. I always remember coming back after that week thinking that nothing could be better. After I graduated high school, I began to volunteer at that camp as a counselor. And let me tell you, as much fun as it is going to camp as a student, it’s way more fun to go as a counselor! When you are a counselor, you can have all the fun that the students have, but still get some of the privileges that the adults enjoyed. Basically, it was the best of both worlds.

But there was one major difference between going to camp as a student and going as a counselor. When I was a student, I would get back from my week of camp and be completely energized, read to get to the next thing that summer. But as a counselor, I would get back from camp being completely exhausted, and nearly wiped out. This was one of the first rude awakenings for me that we will never be as young as we used to be! The most difficult reentry experience came when I was 19 years old, when I yelled so much at camp that I completely lost my voice. For 3-4 days after I returned, I couldn’t talk at all! For those who know anything about me could probably guess, not having a voice or being able to speak was one of the most difficult experiences I ever had to endure.

Whether we love to talk or are very quiet, I am sure that none of us would enjoy not being able to speak. And the reason for that is that words are very important in our world. We use our words to communicate with one another. We use our words to do our jobs. We use our words to strengthen our relationships with those whom we love. Words seem to make the world go round. That’s why it’s no surprise that God, after giving Moses the foundational commandment, immediately makes a commandment about the words that we choose to speak. Today, we are going to explore God’s command that we do not take his name in vein to see how much our words matter, both in our relationship with God and our relationship with each other. Through that, we will see how we can use our own words to continue Christ’s ministry in this world today.

Looking at v.7 from our passage in Exodus, God says to Moses, “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” It’s really important to understand how people approached God back then, and how it’s different than how we approach God today. Today, God is very approachable. We will get to the implications of that later, but it’s important to realize that, for those in Moses’ time, God was distant and separate because he was so holy. Humans were sinful, God is perfect, and for that reason, the two blended like oil and water. For that reason, even saying the name of the Lord was a misuse. To speak the name of the Lord brought God down to the level of human language, and for the Jews, those who spoke his name would be proclaiming that God is not as holy as he really is. For that reason, Jews to this day do not speak the name of the Lord. They simply refer to him as “adonai.”

But for those who believe in the Risen Lord who was revealed to us on Easter morning, God takes on a different persona. Instead of being separate and distant, we believe that God is accessible and intimate with all of humanity. We believe that God revealed himself to us through the giving of his Son, Jesus Christ, and everything we need to know about God we can learn through Christ because Christ is God. For that reason, we can say the name “God” and we can call on him directly. No longer is God a mystery, because he has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ!

But just because we have a God who is known does not mean that our words no longer matter. On the contrary, our words matter now more than ever. When we choose to follow Christ, our lives take on a complete new meaning, and that holds true for the words we use. In the passage we read from Colossians, Paul encourages the Church to leave behind their old ways that lead to death such as anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. The reason he encourages this is because from the moment we choose to be disciples of the Risen Lord, our new meaning in life is to devote every second to spreading his Good News to the world. Every thought we make, every step we take, and every word we speak is an opportunity to proclaim that God loves us and has given us new life!

Family, most of the sermons I preach encourage us to embrace this new life, but I usually approach it from an action-oriented perspective. I truly believe that believing in Christ is not just adhering to a set of moral statutes, but rather sends us out to DO the things Christ calls us to do, like feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring hope to the oppressed. In other words, I want to encourage us to walk the walk. But just as important as it is for us to walk the walk is for us to talk the talk. The words we choose to use at any given moment can either bring God glory, or it can drive others away from him. It doesn’t matter how nice we are, how much we volunteer, or how much we give to help others. If the words we use spread hate, condemnation, intolerance, racism, fear, or rejection, then we fail to follow God’s commandment to use our words to bring him glory. Simply put, our words matter just as much as our actions, and Christ requires complete submission with both in order to be his disciples.

But when we choose to use our words in order to spread Christ’s love and to spread his justice, we are capable of doing so much good in our world! Look at the words we have used in worship today. Just a bit ago, we welcomed a child of God into the congregation when we baptized little Audrey. With the word “We do” and “we will” we committed to loving this child and teaching her about God’s love for her. We committed to supporting her through hardships, and encouraging her to seek Christ in everything she does. With our words, we have already begun to communicate God’s love to this little girl. Isn’t that amazing? When we choose to use our words to communicate Christ’s love to others and to the world, there’s no limit to what god can do through us!

As we leave today, I want us all to reflect on the words we speak, both in public and in private. Are they words that bring God glory, or are they words that misuse the message God has commanded us to speak? The hope for all of us is that we know God’s words to us. Through Christ, we know that God’s words are “I love you” “I desire to be with you” and “I will never leave or forsake you.” And it’s those words that sustain us, it’s those words that lift us up when we have failed, and it’s those words that remind us that we have a job to do. So may our words communicate God’s love for us and for the world, and may our voices point others to the One who gives us all something great to talk about. To God be all glory, honor, and praise, amen.