Speaking the Truth in Love

Speaking the Truth in Love 
A vital element of living a life of Godly love, is speaking the truth with Godly love. Think of the people who are closest to you. You certainly wouldn’t kill them or physically harm them. Of course not! Yet, so often people underestimate the power of words to kill or bring life - to injure or to heal.
Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Before we speak, we can ask ourselves, "Am I speaking words of death, which will tear down, devour, harm, destroy or kill the heart of my neighbor?  Am I speaking words of LIFE which will edify, strengthen, nourish, encourage, enlighten, heal and minister grace and love to the hearer?

Words are obviously important to God. Words spoken in anger, resentment, jealousy or frustration can do great harm to another, as well as to ourselves. I can still remember the day from my childhood when someone said to me, “I hate you!”  Those words cut deep. When I first heard those gut-wrenching words, it was difficult not to become emotional.
How do we handle these situations, when others speak unkindly to or about us? I tried reproof, motivated by love and compassion. It didn’t seem to work, especially considering me and the one who claimed to hate me, were both children at the time. It was difficult and painful. I realized, even at a young age, I needed an extra dose of patience and understanding, which I felt I didn't possess at the time. I had not, because I asked not. Therefore, I decided to pray.

Matthew 21:22
And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer,
believing, ye shall receive

Matthew 7:7-8
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that sketch receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth;
and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

I prayed every night continually for weeks, which turned into months, which turned into years. Eventually the heart of the one who claimed to hate me, softened, and he apologized for every unkind word he had ever spoken to me. We became very good friends, and he became a wonderful source of support for me later in life. How did I cope with the situation during the trying years? It's quite simple: The same way God coped with me (and still does when I mess up), with the love of God. My ability and desire to love the one who hated me, never went away, because the true source of love never left my side. God filled my cup daily with love and compassion, until it overflowed to those around me. That's the greatness of the love of God. It never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Matthew 7:9-11
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread,
will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,
how much more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask him?

I sure am thankful for the good things God has done out of His great love for me, even though I did not earn it. Considering my own imperfection, my logical response to unkind words, was to extend the same grace, which God had given freely unto me.

Proverbs 11:17
The merciful man doth good to his own soul:
but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.

Proverbs 18:6-7
6 A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes.
7 A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.

I knew if I used hurtful words, those words would eventually sink into my own heart and harden it. Instead, I prayed for patience, understanding and wisdom. I asked and I received. Why not? I was born again, according to Romans 10:9-10. I was God's child.

James 1:5
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

God strengthened me with the endurance to maintain a soft heart filled with love and compassion. Of course this person didn't actually hate me, but the words still hurt.

What if he had meant all those hurtful words? God values honesty, and certainly doesn't condone lying.
Proverbs 10:10
He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool.

This verse deals with hatred and lying. God doesn't condone either one of these. Some speech issues are evidence of a greater heart issue. Picture the way a can of soda overflows, as it is opened after being shaken. Hatred and malice, buried in the heart, with even the slightest pressure, will spew forth hateful malicious words. One is a fool for thinking it can remain hidden from God or those who walk with God. Our speech and our heart go hand in hand.

Proverbs 4:23
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

What is buried in the depth of our heart, our innermost being, will be manifested and exposed, when we are shaken by the trials of life. What are your thoughts? Upon what do you dwell continually? These are the thoughts, which will sink beneath the surface, into the depth of your heart, spilling over into your words and actions.

One evening an old Cherokee Indian told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’
The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one you feed.’

A random thought may pop into your head. You are the one who determines how long it stays. You decide if you will nourish it, believe it, dwell on it, permit it to take up residence in your heart, and affect your words and actions. We can't control what others say or do to us. We can, however, control what information we keep and what we dismiss. God's Word is the standard upon which we measure truth, not the opinions of others. This is why it is vital to know and think the Word of God. Godly thoughts are what we want evidenced in our speech, especially during difficult times. Continual Godly thoughts supported by actions, build Godly character. We can fortify our minds and hearts with sound words of edification; words that breathe life, strength and wholeness into our soul. What truths are you storing in your mind to help guard your heart?

Luke 6:45
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart
bringeth forth that which is good;
and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart
bringeth forth that which is evil:
for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

I desire to speak words from a heart that truly BELIEVES and is fully persuaded of the truth of God's Word. We are to consider our words carefully and think before we speak. Sincerity is no guarantee of truth. I may close my eyes and sincerely believe there is no light. Regardless of my sincerity, the light exists. We want to speak truth, not simply emotions or opinions. Both are fleeting and unreliable, and neither stand the test of time. We need more than five senses information to discern truth from error. God, His Word, and His love, remain the same throughout eternity. Our speech can be seasoned with commitment and integrity.

Proverbs 18:17
He that is first in his own cause seemeth just;
but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him.

An argument may be persuasive until it is challenged by the other side. This practical truth stresses the importance of speaking the truth with integrity, following through on what we have spoken. God values honesty and truth. However, God values people as well. I'll also add, God valued the one who said hurtful words to me, just as much as he valued me. The old saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right” heavily applies to the words we speak. If you want to see a situation go from bad to worse very quickly, simply mistreat someone the same way they have mistreated you.

Proverbs 15:1
A soft answer turneth away wrath:
but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 18:19
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city:
and their contentions [arguments; disputes] are like the bars of a castle.

This verse sets forth a strong mind picture of the difficulty in reconciling with someone who has been offended. It’s also hard to reconcile with someone, who is afraid to ask forgiveness, because they think they will be condemned when they do so. Jesus Christ often responded to his attackers, "It is written...", quoting scripture, which he knew and well understood. He came to destroy ['lyse' - dismantle] the works of the devil, not to destroy people. The heart of a believer is to seek the spiritual best for people.

1 Peter 3:15 Amplified Bible
But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect.

Proverbs 18:20
A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth;
and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.

To state it quite simply: Be sure your words are sweet. You might have to eat them. We want to speak words that nurture and bring love, light, and life into every situation.

Consider this tremendous truth: God knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows we are not perfect. Yet, He has given us the Ministry of Reconciliation. It is God's divine decision that man will witness to man, and He has fully equipped us to do so. It is our mouths, speaking God’s Word of reconciliation
, which God has committed unto us, by which others are reconciled to God. (2Corinthians 5:16-20. See the full context in Further Study below this teaching). This adds depth to the following verse:

Proverbs 18:21
Death and life are in the power of the tongue:
and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

You see, we have a purpose for our actions, a purpose for our words: to reconcile [bring back together that which has been separated] others to God in Christ. There's a big picture to be seen, and I want to show it to the world. I endeavor not to lose sight of it, and not to use honesty as an excuse to speak words, which can destroy or harm another. God is the heart searcher.

Romans 8:27
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for God's people
in accordance with the will of God.

We don’t always see the hurt in the heart of another as they speak. If we keep a quiet mind, rather than getting stirred to anger, God will reveal to us what we need to know and what we need to speak. If we’re stirred in our minds and distracted from the Word, we’re not likely to hear that still soft voice.

Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,
but that which is good to the use of edifying,
that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Corrupt = 'sapros' - unwholesome; rotten; No longer fit for use; Counterproductive.
Edifying = 'oikodomen' - It builds them up; strengthens them to live the Word.
Grace = 'char in' - unmerited favor.

Ephesians 4:29 Amplified Bible
Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God's favor) to those who hear it.

We are to speak favorably of one another, whether we think they deserve it or not. God's favor is not based on our own merit, but on what was accomplished in the works of Jesus Christ. God did on behalf of all of us, what none of us could do for ourselves. He saved us, because He loved us. The light of the Word of God is not a spotlight, which focuses solely on the sin of a person. Rather, it illuminates and reveals the hidden places and motives of the heart, and presents opportunity for repentance, provision, protection, and blessings. Try it. Ask God to reveal to you what needs change in your life. He did it (and continues to do so) for me. He will do it for you. When I ask, I set my mind to be ready to receive. It's no surprise that I can read God's Word and see the error of my ways, no matter how long I've been a Christian. There's always room for growth, and it doesn't generally happen in my comfort zone. When I see I'm at fault from the Word, I can choose to ask forgiveness for what I've said or done, and seek to conform to the right way of speech or action. God is not a respecter of people (Romans 2:11; Acts 10:34). He desires that we all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4), and meekly respond to the truth, by speaking and acting upon it. John 3:16 is famously quoted, because it applies to all of us.

John 3:16
God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

This verse doesn't say, "Whosever believeth in him, except for those who are unkind to me." God says what He means, and means what He says. We do well to follow His example. When we pray and say "amen", it's time to "be men" and women who follow through by our speech and actions. This is how we grow, and we do it together, as a unit, as one body.

Ephesians 4:15
But speaking the truth in love,
may grow up into him in all things,
which is the head, even Christ.

When we speak the truth to one another, we speak in LOVE. It’s not only about honesty. Sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves concerning our thoughts and our intentions, before we speak.

James 1:19 NIV
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

The Book of James is addressed to Israel (James 1:1). Although, we live in a different administration (The administration of grace), the book of James is good for our learning. Being slow to speak gives us an opportunity to renew our minds, and gives God a chance to work within us before we speak. It helps us focus on being better listeners. We can listen actively and fully, instead of simply planning what we will say next. Being slow to anger, enables us
 to stop and consider what others are saying. If we hold the reins when we are subject to reproof and correction, and allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to speak (as opposed to becoming defensive), we may find their wise council, not only beneficial, but life saving. Some of the greatest knowledge I've gained, has been from reproof and correction of my mistakes, by believers who loved me enough to tell me the truth. I would not have learned or grown had I not heeded the reproof with meekness.

Proverbs 15:10 KJV
Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way:
and he that hateth reproof shall die.

A scorner liveth not one that reproveth him:
neither will he go unto the wise.

Without counsel purposes are disappointed:
but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.

31 The ear that hearth the reproof of life abideth among the wise.
32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul:
but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.

Proverbs 18:13
He that answereth a matter before he hearth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

It's foolish to prematurely blurt out opinions. One should listen well before speaking. In other words, It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.

Proverbs 28:23 
He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor
than he that flattereth with the tongue.

We love one another enough to speak the truth, as opposed to vain flattery or condoning behavior contrary to God's Word. We simply speak the truth, not in arrogance or pride, but in love, because we want the best for one another. Our listening and our speech are motivated by love. We’re not listening to hear the latest gossip. We listen and speak with the heart to help and uplift one another. Be very careful with the hearts of those who confide in you. Knowledge is responsibility. Knowing the weakness of another, gives us great cause to avoid being a stumbling block in their path.

Romans 14:21
It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine,
nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.

1 Corinthians 8:9
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights
does not become a stumbling block to the weak.

The apostle Paul instructed believers not to eat meat in front of those who continued to follow Old Testament law. Why? He didn't want to offend them, and it wasn't against Christ to NOT eat meat. The general idea was to do anything and everything to gain a brother and reach others with the good news of Christ, as long as it wasn't contrary to God's Word. This is something to consider before we speak. We don't seek to exploit or call unnecessary attention to one another’s weaknesses or faults. If someone is not spiritually mature in a category of life to receive the meat of the Word, we don't starve them. We give them milk. Reproof has a much needed time, place and purpose, but is always to be motivated by love and utilizing the mildest tone and gentlest wording available to help the one who is stumbling to stand again.

We know we must exercise our physical bodies, lest we become weak and subject to poor health, even causing death. Part of exercising our new freedom in Christ, is exercising discipline over our tongues. What we continually speak, will seep into the depths of our heart, and will be manifested outwardly in our lives.

Matthew 15:11
Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man [makes him unclean];
but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Proverbs 15:23
A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth:
and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!

We focus on God when giving reproof and correction. Know your motive. It can mean the difference between kicking someone while they are down OR helping them to stand upright again.

Proverbs 26:18-19
18 As a mad man casteth firebrands, arrows and death
19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbor and saith, Am not I in sport?

In other words, "I was only joking. Why are you upset? It was just a joke." Joking is not funny when it is done at the expense of another. If it’s not funny to the person about whom the joke is told, it is not funny. This is different from simple light hearted humor. The Word of God is filled with wonderful emotion and humor. Being light hearted and able to laugh is a blessing when it does no harm to others. It's a blessing when it builds others up, rather than tearing them down.

Proverbs 26:20-22
20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out:
so where there is no talebearer [gossip], the strife ceaseth.
21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire;
so is a contentious [quarrelsome] man to kindle strife.
22 The words of a talebearer [gossip] are as wounds,
and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. 

If someone says something hurtful, we can run damage control by choosing to renew our minds to the Word, as opposed to dwelling on hurtful words. The damage ends where we end it. However, if I gossip about what someone said or did to me, and put a magnifying glass over it, I am only prolonging and furthering the damage. There's a big difference between seeking wise council and gossiping.

This is only the tip of the iceberg in the Word of God concerning our speech. There are tons of verses which elaborate on what, when, how, where and why we are to speak. These verses shed great light and help open our understanding. Words are important to God, because PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT TO GOD. It’s important to place as much value on the person to whom we are speaking, as the authenticity and honesty of our speech.

Proverbs 18:4
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters,
and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

The well-spring of wisdom in the heart of a believer, continually supplies words of wisdom."
~ Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

A person’s words are obscure, or unclear. Their motive is not always obvious. You can’t see to the bottom of a deep ocean. It’s hidden or concealed. We walk the line, so to speak, in interpreting the words of others, and in speaking words which are profitable to the listener. There is a fine line separating truth from error. If we want to walk that line and respond appropriately, we must walk with God. Our adversary attempts to cloud our vision. He'll change one word in a verse, thereby turning the truth into a lie. He's been doing it since Genesis Chapter Three, and judging by Eve's response, he's a sly old fox and quite good at it. He wants to conceal the truth, because there is power to defeat him, in the rightly divided truth of God's Word.

Proverbs 20:5 KJV
Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water;
but a man of understanding will draw it out.

There is power in the words of a wise person, because God's Word is enforced by God's power. I am not speaking specifically of the the manifestation referred to as "Word of Wisdom," but simply the words of one who has the rightly divided Word buried in their heart.

Hebrews 4:2-3; V.12-13 KJV
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them:
but the word preached did not profit them,
not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest...
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight:
but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

The words of the wise clarify, enlighten and promote understanding unto those who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Their words flow with a steady supply of nourishment to meet the needs of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Albert Einstein stated, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Speaking to others is not about eloquent speech or using big words. It’s simply speaking the truth of the Word of God in love, leaving people better than we find them, and strengthening one another. No man is an island. When we tear down others, we tear down ourselves. Likewise, when we edify and strengthen others, we strengthen ourselves. We are one body, the body of Christ. God's Word is filled with practical advice we can implement to avoid great pitfalls, and achieve great victories, in the words we speak, or the words we don't speak.

Proverbs 26:4 NIV
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you yourself will be just like him.

We are not single celled organisms, or mere victims of stimulus and response. We do not have to respond to every word spoken to us. We have the spirit of God living within us and we do not have to conform to the pattern of this world. We can be transformed by the renewing of our mind and respond according to the Word of God (Romans 12:2). 
The Word of God sets before us the power of life and death, asking us to choose, just as Moses and Joshua presented the choice in the Old Testament. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Joshua 24:15) Why? There are consequences of choices and God wants people to prevail. We reap the words and actions we sow. Sow seeds of life. (See "Parable of the Sower" in the Further study section following this teaching.)

Isaiah 55:11 Amplified Bible
So will My word be which goes out of My mouth;
It will not return to Me void (useless, without result),
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

 Jesus Christ, in the gospel of Matthew, exhorts his disciples to take the narrow way, which leads unto life. Likewise, when choosing our words, we can choose words which bring life.

Matthew  7:13-14
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

God loved us first, before we were even capable of spiritual love. Our response to the love of God is to love others, and our response to the Word of life we have been freely given, is to speak that Word of life to others, and to gain a brother or sister in Christ. It was women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, who ministered unto Jesus Christ of their substance to support him in his ministry as he and his disciples spread the truth (Luke 8:1-3). The person who once spoke hateful words to me repetitively, later surpassed me in his giving, kindness, and compassion for others. In fact, he even gave one of the few pieces of furniture he had, his bed, to an elderly person who had need. He became a shining example of hospitality without complaining.

1 Peter 4:9 NIV
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Philippians 2:14 NIV
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

1 Peter 3:8-10
8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another,
love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing;
knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil,
and his lips that they speak no guile.

Do you see the flow of these verses? The goal and the greatest outcome, is to be of one mind, to love and edify one another, ultimately to be unified in Christ.

Isaiah 50:4
The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.

We prevail in living God’s love by speaking the truth of God’s Word in love. The world, in and of itself, is a desert, void of God’s love. We are surrounded by words on every side, from billboards to television. Yet, the world, without God, is a barren dark empty field of bondage and need.

1 John 3:17 ESV
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need,
yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?

The greatest need man has, is the need for God. One might even go as far as to say: The way God's children are spiritually nourished to grow, is by spiritually nourishing others with the Word. It is in our spiritual giving, that we spiritually receive. One must not wait for perfection in order to witness, because when we have our perfect bodies, our time to speak will have passed. The way those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled, and the way God’s love is made known to the world, is by the speech and actions of God’s people, as they manifest the power of God in their gift of holy spirit. In the words of William L. Watkinson, "It is better to light a single candle, than curse the darkness."

Matthew 5:14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world.
A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel,
but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Your life may be the only Bible someone ever reads. Your words may be the only Word of God they ever hear. Your speech is important, because you are important. You are a vital member of God’s household. Speak light. Speak love. Speak life. God bless you.

John 8:32
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Enjoy the following music videos:
(Left to Right)
"I Love to Tell The Story" Sang by Alan Jackson
"I could Sing of Your Love Forever" by Martin Smith
"Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath
"The Love of God" by TheNCrew


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Parable of the Sower
Luke 8:5-17 KJV
5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side;
and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.
6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up,
it withered away, because it lacked moisture.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.
And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
*Disciples Question Meaning of the Parable*
9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?
10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God:
but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see,
and hearing they might not understand.
*Meaning of the Parable Explained*
11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear;
then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts,
lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy;
and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and
are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart,
having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
16 No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light.
17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest;
neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.

[See also Matthew 13:3-17; explained in v.18-23; Mark 4:1-9; explained in v.10-25;
Parable of the Weeds Matthew 13:24-30; explained in v.36-43;
Parable of the Growing Seed Mark 4:26-29]
[See also Hebrews Ch.4]

Ministry of Reconciliation
2 Corinthians 5:6-21 The Message Bible
6-13 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down.They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming. But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad. That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
A New Life  v. 14-21
Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

John 17:25-26 Amplified Bible
25 “O just and righteous Father, although the world has not known You and has never acknowledged You [and the revelation of Your mercy], yet I have always known You; and these [believers] know [without any doubt] that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them [overwhelming their heart], and I [may be] in them.”

Study Notes
1 Samuel 18:30 King James Bible Study Notes
"Despite Saul’s jealousy, trickery, and oppression, David’s conduct remained exemplary. He supported properly constituted authority (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13–20) and behaved himself . . . wisely, not repaying evil for evil (cf. Rom. 12:17, 21; 1 Pet. 3:8–17)."

1 Peter 3:15 MacArthur Study Bible NKJV
"always be ready to give a defense. The Eng. word “apologetics” comes from the Gr. word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (cf. Phil. 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory."

John 8:32 Matthew Henry's Commentary
You shall know the truth, shall know all that truth which it is needful and profitable for you to know, and shall be more confirmed in the belief of it, shall know the certainty of it.” Note, First, Even those who are true believers, and disciples indeed, yet may be, and are, much in the dark concerning many things which they should know. God’s children are but children, and understand and speak as children. Did we not need to be taught, we should not need to be disciples. Secondly, It is a very great privilege to know the truth, to know the particular truths which we are to believe, in their mutual dependences and connections, and the grounds and reasons of our belief,—to know what is truth and what proves it to be so. Thirdly, It is a gracious promise of Christ, to all who continue in his word, that they shall know the truth as far as is needful and profitable for them. Christ’s scholars are sure to be well taught."

2 Timothy 4:2 MacArthur Study Bible NKJV
"the word. The entire written Word of God, His complete revealed truth as contained in the Bible (cf. 3:15, 16; Acts 20:27). Be ready. The Gr. word has a broad range of meanings, including suddenness (Luke 2:9; Acts 12:7) or forcefulness (Luke 20:1; Acts 4:1; 6:12; 23:27). Here the form of the verb suggests the complementary ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It was used of a soldier prepared to go into battle or a guard who was continually alert for any surprise attack—attitudes which are imperative for a faithful preacher (Jer. 20:9; Acts 21:11–13; Eph. 5:15, 16; 1 Pet. 3:15). in season and out of season. The faithful preacher must proclaim the Word when it is popular and/or convenient, and when it is not; when it seems suitable to do so, and when it seems not. The dictates of popular culture, tradition, reputation, acceptance, or esteem in the community (or in the church) must never alter the true preacher’s commitment to proclaim God’s Word. Convince, rebuke. The negative side of preaching the Word (the “reproof” and “correction”; cf. 3:16). The Gr. word for “convince” refers to correcting behavior or false doctrine by using careful biblical argument to help a person understand the error of his actions. The Gr. word for “rebuke” deals more with correcting the person’s motives by convicting him of his sin and leading him to repentance. exhort…teaching. The positive side of preaching (the “doctrine” and “instruction”; cf. 3:16)."

Ephesians Ch.4 Matthew Henry's Commentary
"By meekness, that excellent disposition of soul which makes men unwilling to provoke others, and not easily to be provoked or offended with their infirmities; and it is opposed to angry resentments and peevishness. Long-suffering implies a patient bearing of injuries, without seeking revenge. Forbearing one another in love signifies bearing their infirmities out of a principle of love, and so as not to cease to love them on the account of these..."
"...We do not walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called if we be not meek and lowly of heart: for he by whom we are called, he to whom we are called, was eminent for meekness and lowliness of heart, and has commanded us therein to learn of him."
"Endeavouring is a gospel word. We must do our utmost. If others will quarrel with us, we must take all possible care not to quarrel with them. If others will despise and hate us, we must not despise and hate them. In the bond of peace. Peace is a bond, as it unites persons, and makes them live friendly one with another. A peaceable disposition and conduct bind Christians together, whereas discord and quarrelling disband and disunite their hearts and affections. Many slender twigs, bound together, become strong."

The Love of God
1 Corinthians Ch.13 Amplified Bible
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. 3 If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all. Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].  Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. 10 But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 13 And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.

1 John 4:20 KJV
 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar:
for he that liveth not his brother whom he hath seen,
how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1 John 3:18 KJV
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue;
but in deed and in truth.

1 Peter 4:8 Amplified Bible
Above all, have [a]fervent and unfailing love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins
[it overlooks unkindness and unselfishly seeks the best for others].

John 13:34-35 KJV
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another;
as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

John 14:24 Amplified Bible
One who does not [really] love Me does not keep My words.
And the word (teaching) which you hear is not Mine, but is the Father’s who sent Me.

1 John 5:2 KJV
By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God, and keep his commandments.

Food for Thought
Colossians 4:6
Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,
that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Ephesians 4:25 ESV
Therefore, having put away falsehood,
let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor,
for we are members one of another.

Proverbs 12:19 ESV
Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Zechariah 8:16 ESV
These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another;
render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace;

2 Timothy 2:1-2 KJV
1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses,
the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:14-15 KJV
14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord
that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Numbers 23:19 ESV
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

Hebrews Ch.4
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest,
any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them:
but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said,
As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest:
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise,
And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein,
and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
7 Again, he limfiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time;
as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works,
as God did from his.
11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest,
lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow,
and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight:
but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;
but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace,
that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 1:1-10 KJV
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness,
and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you,
that ye also may have fellowship with us:
and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you,
that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness,
we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another,
and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

2 Corinthians 3:18 KJV
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

"It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool,
than to talk and remove all doubt of it."
Origin Unknown. It is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln, as well as Mark Twain. However it is said to have been stated prior to their existence.

"It is better to light a candle, than curse the darkness"
William Lonsdale Watkinson used this expression the first time in print in "The Supreme Conquest, and other sermons preached in America, 1907." This phrase is also associated with John F. Kennedy, and reportedly first brought to the public's attention by Peter Benenson, the English lawyer and founder of Amnesty International, at a Human Rights Day ceremony on December 10, 1961. The candle circled by barbed wire has since become the society's emblem. Some have also reported it was an old Chinese proverb.