Society of Fellows
"It doesnít matter how good the ammunition is if the sight is not on the target! You will miss every time." This axiom applies in communication as well as hunting. The longer I am in the pastorate, and the older I become, the more important good communication becomes to me. I often wonder how much of what is said in our Sunday sermons really reaches the minds and hearts of those who listen? To borrow words from our text, I wonder if the words are "fitly spoken?" The questions every minister must consider each Sunday are: "What am I trying to accomplish today? Where does my interest lie? If I am more concerned about what folks think about my suit, than about my sermon, then my interest is in the wrong place. If I am more concerned about a compliment than compliance with the message, my interest is in the wrong place."
Today I want to deal with the phrase from Proverbs 25:11, "a word fitly spoken." This proverb is lifted from a number in the twenty-fifth chapter of Proverbs, and I suppose would be more of a textual sermon than expository. Since the apostle Paul connected marriage with the church in Ephesians five; and since good communication is one of the main keys to a successful marriage; I want to suggest that good communication is very important in evangelism and discipleship in the local church. I would suggest a word fitly spoken must be:
A worker asked for a pay raise and got this note back from his supervisor: "Because of the fluctuating predisposition of your positionís productive capacity as juxtaposed to standard norms, it would be momentarily injudicious to advocate your requested increment." The puzzled worker went to the supervisor and said, "If this is about my pay raise, I donít get it" "Thatís right," said the supervisor! If the message is not clear then it is not a word fitly spoken!
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, "Do not waste your time bothering whether you love your neighbor. Act as if you do. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less." No word can be fitly spoken if it is not spoken compassionately.
A well-known professional golfer was playing in a tournament with President Gerald Ford, fellow pro Jack Nicklaus, and Billy Graham. After the round was over, one of the other pros on the tour asked, "Hey, what was it like playing with the President and Billy Graham?" The pro said with disgust, "I don't need Billy Graham stuffing religion down my throat!" With that he headed for the practice tee. His friend followed, and after the golfer had pounded out his fury on a bucket of golf balls, he asked, "Was Billy a little rough on you out there?" The pro sighed and said with embarrassment, "No, he didn't even mention religion." Astonishingly, Billy Graham had said nothing about God, Jesus, or religion, yet the pro stomped away after the game accusing Billy of trying to ram religion down his throat.2 A word fitly spoken must be convicting and the life-style of the speaker is the most convicting of all.
Spoken words only become apples of gold when they are spoken clearly, compassionately and convincingly! I believe every pastorís prayer should be; "Lord help me to speak your words fitly for your glory and manís good."
Written by: Dr. Jack May, Pastor
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Jack May has been pastor of Colonial Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee since 1997. He received the bachelor of arts degree from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi; the master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and an honorary doctorate from Union University. He and his wife Erlene are the parents of two grown children.
1 Our Daily Bread, February 14, 2000
2 Sproul, R. C., The Holiness of God