Andrew Fountain - How to Speak Words of Life


Full sermon notes - How to Speak Words of Life

  • Why are we having our Talent Showcase today?
    • It’s about strengthening community
    • This is one of the core values of Newlife Church and today I want to talk about why
    • I’ll also be building on some of the things that Tafari has been saying in his James series.
  • Part of that value is reflected in the way we have interaction during the sermons
    • But please can I ask you not to interrupt me
    • I have times when I ask for response, but if you have an amazing thought while I am speaking, you’ll have to just hold on to it.

1. Words have real power

  • Words of Life
  • Words of Death
  • Surface words

1. Words have real power

  • We have a saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me”
    • But that is not what the book of Proverbs says:


  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
  • “A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
  • “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
    but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.” Proverbs 10:11
  • How can this be true?
    • Jesus took the broken and demoralized Peter and restored him to leadership with a few carefully chosen words
    • Satan said a few words to Eve that destroyed her confidence in God
  • Parents can speak words into the hearts of their children which are death or life
    • I remember in about 1994 I had some critical decisions to make about my future
    • I remember spending some time with my Dad and him telling me that whatever I decided to do he would support me.
  • surface community
    • Hi, how are you doing?
    • Great, and you?
    • Yes, fine... (we assume that the person is not really interested)
    • (I try never to say that because you rarely get a truthful answer.
      instead I say something like “how has work been this week” —more specific)

Proverbs 11:9

  • “With his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour,
    but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.”
  • Words can also bring death, they can be like poison, buried in the heart.
    • “you’ll never amount to anything”
    • “why can’t you be like James, your older brother?” (Terry Hopgood) —frequent suicide attempts
    • “You were a mistake—I naver wanted you and wish you hadn’t been born” (Brian’s mum)
    • Crabb (Encouragement) p.23
    • but positive example: p.23 (2 lines from bot) p.25
  • So in the first part of this talk we’ve seen that Words have real power:
    • Life words, death words, Surface words

2. What makes for LIFE words?

  1. The Holy Spirit
  2. The motives of our heart
  3. Wise words

LIFE words A: Holy Spirit

  • Luke 12:11-12 teaches us that the Spirit can directly give us words when we need them.
    “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,
    for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you haven’t a clue what to say and you just cry out:
    “Lord, help me!”
    • e.g. asked to visit a man who had cancer, days to live, not a Christian.
    • Face was all swollen up
      • panic! what on earth...? Lord help me! (don’t remember)
  • Romans 12:8 lists encouragement as one of the gifts of the Spirit
    • many of the gifts, belong to some extent to all Christians
    • e.g. hospitality, faith, mercy
    • this is a similar kind of gift
      • some have it in a special way, like Barnabas
      • but we should all desire to be encouragers
      • e.g. Bronwyn & Larry Darmanin

B. The motives of our heart

  • Why do we take part in a conversation?
    • Not that long ago I had several conversations with people in which I was...
    • More and more frustrated... (why Andrew?) because I had a good story to tell
      • for whose benefit was I telling it?
    • Last week met up with some old friends
      • He started telling me about all that had happened to him in the last few years
      • after ½ hour... surely he is going to ask me...!
        • Lord, maybe you just want me to focus on him.
  • I was once in a church where there was a lady who always had lots of advice for people
    • If you so much as mentioned a problem, you would get advice, and lots of it.
    • She didn’t even need to spend much time listening to your problem...
      • It seemed that her motive was to meet a need in herself...
    • very few people went to her for advice

LIFE words B: Motives of our heart

  • James 1:19 says “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak”
  • Proverbs 10:20 says:
    “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
    the heart of the wicked is of little worth.”
  • when we give advice too quickly, we are really saying
    • “You are so stupid that you need me to tell you how to live your life”
  • sometimes underneath we have a desire to show how “wise” we are
  • It has been said that most people actually know what to do, they just need encouragement to do it.
    • I find it helpful to say “what do you think you should do?”
      • amazing how many people then say exactly what you would have told them to do, but it is much better if it is their idea!
  • Sometimes there is a lot at risk when we know we have to have a difficult conversation with a person
    • I had heard that a person was talking behind my back
    • It was so hard for me to work up the strength to bring up the subject
    • Much easier to stay on surface conversations
    • In the end I took the risk, and everything was sorted out between us
  • So in conclusion, if we are going into a conversation, and our unconscious goal is to make us look better, then we are unlikely to bless the person
  • Proverbs 10:20 says:
    The tongue of the righteous is choice silver;
    the heart of the wicked is of little worth.

LIFE words C: Wise words

  • Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down,
    but a good word makes him glad.” Proverbs 12:25
  • “Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
    sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” Proverbs 16:24
  • “A word fitly spoken
    is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

Life Words

  • How to get past “surface community”
  1. Reflect back
  2. Clarify
  3. Explore
  • Avoid giving advice
  • Don’t try tell them how to fix their problem
  • A computer consultant, Jack Phillips, does work both for you and for another member of your department (Joyce Carton). One morning you walk up to Jack’s desk and he greets you as follows:
    • Jack: What am I supposed to do about Joyce? She throws more work at me than I can possibly handle. I’ve told her but she won’t listen. I don’t want people to think I’m trying to get out of doing my job but she’s really got me totally buried

Replying to Jack

  1. Hang in there: I’m sure it will work out eventually
  2. I’ll talk to Joyce about it
  3. It sounds like this is really getting you down
  4. You’re worried people will think you are a slacker?
  5. Joyce is really unfair, huh?
  6. Have you discussed it with Jim the boss?
  7. You were discouraged when Joyce didn’t listen?
  8. Why have you let things go on this long?
  9. It sounds like she has done this recently?

How could you help?

  1. Have you had any thoughts about what to do?
  2. You’ve probably thought about talking to the boss?
  3. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen—do you think there is any way I could help?
  4. You know yourself better than I do, but do you think that maybe you’re the kind of person that puts up with this because you don’t like to cause a fuss?

3. Our highest calling is to love one another

  • Finally I want to quote from Phil 2:1–5

Philippians 2:1–5

  1. So if there is any encouragement in Christ,
    any comfort from love,
    any participation in the Spirit,
    any affection and sympathy,
  2. complete my joy by being
    of the same mind,
    having the same love,
    being in full accord and of one mind.
  3. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit,
    but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  4. Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
    but also to the interests of others.
  5. Have this mind among yourselves,
    which is yours in Christ Jesus,

based on NET Bible

  • This is one of the main ways we show love to one another—in the way we communicate
  • Sometimes we think “If only I didn’t have all these problem people in my life, then I could get on with the destiny God has called me into”
  • But actually, the problem people are the destiny!
  • Our highest calling is to love one another
    • one of the main ways we accomplish this is by loving words.

Updated on 2014-11-09 by Andrew Fountain