Loving Our Neighbor with Our Words

[shout] GOD BLESS YOU!

How did you feel when I spoke those words?

Did you think, “Thanks, Pastor.”

I hope so.

What if I had come to your home before your alarm went off, and knocked on your door loudly and yelled,


Now, that would evoke a very different response, right?

The words are not any different. But the setting is different.

We can bless people, and we should.

Or we can curse them.

And we can use the same words to do so.

In Proverbs we see a verse that illustrates this:
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
    it will be taken as a curse.

Proverbs 27:14

How we communicate with people, communicates just as much as what we communicate.

We are focusing this month on the second greatest commandment, Love your Neighbor as yourself.

This cannot be understood apart from the greatest commandment to love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.


I’m excited about our focus on Loving our neighbor, and I am happy about our plan to reach out to our neighbors.

Last week we looked at the story of the expert in the law who tested Jesus about salvation and then asked the question, “Who Is My Neighbor.”

Jesus, then, told the parable of the Good Samaritan. That was a teaching about loving our neighbor with our actions.

But, let’s also love our neighbor with our words.

For our Scripture reading, today, let’s look at a Psalm 34.

These are the words of David, after he had made one of many escapes from death.

There was a period of time in David’s life in which he was constantly under attack from his physical enemies and from spiritual and emotional ones, too.

David wrote some of the most emotional words in all of Holy Scripture, and they teach us that it’s alright with God for us to complain to Him and cry out to him.

We were made in God’s image, and in part that means that we are verbal:

  • God created by His Word and we can build up with our words.
  • God can also destroy with a word, and we can too.

This is a great responsibility to carefully use our words, not merely in speaking, but what we write and what we think.

Let’s look at Psalm 34, and see how David’s words were loving to his neighbors:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Psalm 34:1-6 (ESV)



On Wednesday evening, we had an interesting situation occur.

Connie had been inviting a friend of hers, Cheri, to come to the church for a very long time.

During the day on Wednesday, Cheri had a moment with God as He showed her His protection, so she was then determined to come to our church.

Connie called to invite her to our “Love Your Neighbor” dinner, and Cheri said that she would like to come that evening, too.

On Wednesdays, we have a wonderful friend, Ernie Campe, who teaches. The evening is divided into the three parts:

  • Worship and Prayer
  • Bible Study
  • Prayer in small groups

So, during the time of prayer in small groups, Pam, prayed with Connie and Cheri.

Pam and Cheri soon realized that had previously met, so they reunited.

I was impressed with God that He had led Connie to

  • invite someone with whom He was working,
  • who had met someone, already, in the church.

But, that’s not all….

Cheri asked if I would be willing to meet her husband.

I asked his name was, and was further amazed:

I knew her husband.

I had not seen him in 35 years or so,

but then I also realized that I had known her father-in-law, who had been a huge encouragement to me when I was a young man.

Think of the power of words.

Connie’s invitation in the Hands of God led to an incredible reunion.

And I thought of the power of words over the years in my life.

Cheri’s father-in-law encouraged me when I was a teenager, and God used him to help me to be who I am, today.

Words can build us up, and they can crush us.

David declared:

I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Psalm 34:1

David wanted to always bless the Lord.

Is that what we want to do?

David Loved the Lord with all of his heart.

We can, too.

Let praise fall off our lips rather than fear or selfishness.

I am not advocating cliché or slogans

but real praise

honoring God with our words.

Notice that right away, in the second verse, David wants his neighbor to hear his words of praise to God.

“Let the humble hear and be glad.”

Psalm 34:2

The “humble” was his neighbor.

Remember who our neighbor is:

Neighbor” -someone who breathes the same air as us.

David then moves from

SPEAKING (Hearing)



And invites his neighbor to…

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!

Psalm 34:3

God didn’t look at the earth while it was formless and void and say,

“You’re a wasteland. You’re worthless.”

No, instead He spoke and the heavens and the earth were created.

God created us in His image, gave powerful tongues to us.

It is terrible how powerful our tongues can be.

Instead of building up, our tongues can destroy us and others.

People are forming opinions about Jesus from what we say and what we write…and I include what we post.

If we spent more time in the Scripture and less on our tablets, phones and laptops we would realize that God is not calling us to gather “likes” and favorable comments, but He wants us to call to others and say,

“Glorify, praise and magnify the Lord with me. Let us together worship and exalt the Lord, together.”

David wrote,

“I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all of my fears.”

Psalm 34:4

That is David’s testimony, and he wanted everyone to know it.

If this had been his Facebook Post, he would have gotten thousands of likes in his lifetime, and hundreds of millions, since.

For 3000 years David’s words have been read in numerous languages, and they have been

  • rehearsed,
  • followed, and
  • shared in experience.

The Church continues on because of testimonies like David’s.

We grow, spiritually, when we see God at work.

We help others to either grow, or to die by what we think, say and write.

The next two verses I want to illustrate with some new friends of mine:

Behzad and Jamila are from Iran.

They were born into Muslim families and found faith in Jesus while they were young adults.

I first met them a few months ago. And a couple weeks ago, Clover and I had tea in their home.

We, too, have mutual friends around the world.

I want them to share how they came to Jesus and why they are so thankful to Him.

[Behzad and Jamila to share]

Behzad & Jamila 

Church-Planters from Iran

Q: Behzad and Jamila, what kind of homes did you grow up in?

Q: Behzad, how did you change and become a follower of Jesus?

Q: Bahzad, what did you do, next? What did God call you to do?

Q: Jamila, so how did you change and become a follower of Jesus?

Q: What happened as you ministered in Iran, together?

Q: What was prison like?

Q: What happened, next?

Q: How long did it take for you to be able to come to the US?

Q: We know what the Iranian government thinks about America, but what do Iranians think?


*** *** ***

When I think of Psalm 34:5, 6, I think of people like Behzad and Jamila.

Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.

Psalm 34:5, 6


  • reached them,
  • called them,
  • saved them,
  • equipped them,
  • deployed them,

and like Clover and me, they have the

Same Calling, Different Address


In conclusion, let me share a final point from Ephesians.

Paul had to correct the Ephesian church on the use of their tongues:

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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4:25-32

We grieve the Holy Spirit of God when our words destroy and crush others.

Let us love our neighbors with our words.

You might ask me,

“but isn’t it loving to share a word of correction.”

And I agree, but let’s

  • build that relationship and
  • earn the right to speak a word of correction to people.

And let’s practice speaking a word that engages our neighbor to worship the Lord with us.

Let us be radiant and draw people toward us with our words and with our actions.

Let us love God with our heart, soul, strength and mind and love our neighbor as we love ourself.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14

Let’s pray

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