Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, December 19, 2020

Shabbat Shalom,

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 19-Dec-2020 4th of Tevet, 5781 Parashat Miketz

Ge 43:30-44:17 Zec 2:14-4:7 Php 2:1-11 

Pleasing God (continued) by David Harwood

Let’s review some terms as we go forward in developing a godly inner narrative.

There is a meta-narrative. It is what we find in Scripture regarding the nature of our Creator and how He interacts with the cosmos. There are increasingly smaller narratives, for instance the type of story one learns about the nation in which one lives. Movements have narratives, families have narratives. The way others view you is a type of micro-narrative. The way you view yourself is your inner-narrative. Any of the various stories can be prophetic narratives: interpreting these things from glimpses of God’s point of view. Ultimately, all these interplaying lesser narratives are part of the tapestry of how God sees things. That is the absolutely true meta-narrative.

We’ve established that how you view yourself, how you talk to yourself, is important to God. Therefore we pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV) 

I have paraphrased this as:

Let the words of my mouth and my heart’s deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure. (my paraphrase of Psalm 19:15a)

We’re continuing to present thoughts about how we speak to ourselves. Last week’s meditation was viewed through the window of a literal definition of the Greek word, sapros. It means decaying, or rotten. To help us in our inner-narrative the first thing we’ll do this week is examine how that word may have evolved in its use and how many translators interpret it. Instead of rotten, sapros is variously translated, from seven different translations, as unwholesome, or foul, or harmful, or corrupt, or evil. 

Still, I appreciate the Lexham English Bible’s more literal translation and will continue to use rotten as the baseline definition of sapros. There is something to be said for timely, fresh communication that has not outlived its ripeness. In any event, the verses we’re looking at prohibit certain forms of verbal interactions within the believing community.

Let’s refresh our memories. Here is Ephesians 4:29, again.

No rotten word must proceed from your mouth, but only something good for the building up of the need, in order that it may give grace to those who hear, and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, and rage, and wrath, and clamor, and abusive speech, must be removed from you, together with all wickedness. Become kind toward one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as also God in Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29–32 Lexham English Bible) 

Rotten speech’s effect upon a community of believers is similar to the phenomenon of rot in the material world. When something decays, and is in close proximity to that which is not rotten, the decay spreads. Wood rot spreads to other pieces of wood. One bad apple really can spoil an entire barrel of apples.  Rot spreads.

Rotten speech within a congregation also spreads and can contaminate an entire fellowship. 

The same is true about our inner beings. The entirety of our souls can become diseased if we put up with spiritually compromised strongholds comprised of rotten inner-narratives. 

Doesn’t the Messiah deserve a holy congregation?

Do we want to belong to a healthy fellowship of disciples? 

If so, we must watch over our own, and one another’s, speech. We are to edify one another by the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh guided by the Word of God. This type of interaction gives the Messiah joy.

The Ruach is aware of, and affected by, the quality of our speech with one another. This same Spirit is affected by the nature of our inner speech about others and ourselves. 

We want our congregations to be healthy. Do we want our souls to be healthy? 

If so, we need to become aware of how we speak about ourselves to ourselves. We must be intentionally edifying as we meditate upon our histories and current circumstances. These type of inner conversations strengthen our souls and please Adonai. The Lord is worthy of our souls made whole. 

In Ephesians 4:29 we find that Paul followed up this prohibition by offering positive direction. The Messiah’s emissary first forbade rotten speech (No rotten word must proceed from your mouth) and then wrote this: but only something good for the building up of the need, in order to give grace to those who hear.

Here’s an imaginary dialog:

Disciple: Only something good? That seems constrictive.

Mentor: Yes, only.

Disciple: Well, that’s pretty narrow… 

Mentor: Yes, it is.

Disciple: Well, what are the characteristics of something good, and why is Paul giving this direction?

His goal was that the believing community would be aware of what would edify each other, as the New American Standard put it, according to the need of the moment. Timely, true, godly, wise, empowered words give grace to those who have ears to hear. The type of grace focused on here is not the “unmerited-favor” type of grace. This grace has to do with “enabling-favor”. In its context that included grace to live in harmony with one another as they were being equipped to minister while they became like Yeshua. We all need encouragement, and the believing community is to discipline itself to fulfill the call to mutually edify its members. Unless the Body is built up it will not fulfill its destiny.

Your soul needs to embrace the same type of motivation and discipline as you voice thoughts concerning yourself and your life within your heart. Your grace imparting inner-narrative will delight the Messiah who is present in your inner being through Ruach imparted strengthening faith. 

(I pray that Father would) grant you to be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Ruach, so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith. (Ephesians 3:16b–17a TLV) 

Yeshua really does dwell within you. As you are edified by your meditations in His presence you will mature and fulfill your calling.

Let’s go back a bit and recall that Shaul commanded the community to only communicate something good for the (purpose of) building up. This is relevant to the way we speak about ourselves within our hearts. We are to speak only what is good for the purpose of building up our souls. We are to learn to view our lives, in the sight of the interpersonal God who lives in our heart, in such a way that we edify ourselves. The indwelling God is aware of  what we express in our inner thoughts about our lives, our pasts, and our prospects. We are to carefully choose our meditations. We are to intentionally speak only what is good. He wants us to be edified.

A community of Yeshua followers who put this into practice will please Adonai. He is actively present in His community and witnesses the insightful, edifying love shared by the members of His Body. If we speak within our souls to ourselves in a similar edifying fashion we will bless God with our meditations. It is just like the maturing community of believers’ relationships please God’s Ruach. As with His interaction with the believing community’s speech, so our heart’s deepest thoughts are voiced in God’s presence

We need God’s help for this. So, please pray:

Adonai, I want the words I speak to others, and the words I speak in my heart, to be intentionally good. In the same way I desire to impart enabling favor to others, I desire to edify myself. 

I need Your help to be a source of strength for others. I need your help to edify myself, as well.

Help me only speak in my heart what is good concerning myself. As I do this I know that I will give Your presence pleasure.  Be personally edified, and bring wholeness into the lives of others.

Continue to pray and expect God’s help in transforming your inner-narrative:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV) 


Let the words of my mouth and my heart’s deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure. (my paraphrase of Psalm 19:15a)