Speaking About Important Things
Speaking About Practical Things
We are on an adventure to discover what preaching is, as we explore the various words in the New Testament that refer to preaching. In the last post we examined what it means to preach the gospel. Today we consider the word laleo (transliterated Greek), which is mostly translated as “to speak”. Peter uses this word in I Peter 4, 10-11, however, in a way that obviously means more than just having a chat, as we will see shortly Rather, he is referring to speaking about important things in our preaching ministry.
It is interesting to note that in many places in the New Testament laleo refers to daily speech between people about everyday life.
For instance, Matthew describes common speech using this word in Matthew 12:36. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” This is, it seems, a reference to speech that happens between people in the normal course of living. It can sometimes be “empty”, or have no real meaning.
Paul also uses this word in a similar way in Ephesians 4:25. “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” He’s referring to the everyday speech of the people.
The same could be said of laleo in James 1:19. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
Speaking About Important Things
This same word, though, describes preaching elsewhere in the New Testament. Look at Matthew 12:46. “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.” Here Jesus is speaking to a crowd, and so this word seems to refer to his teaching/preaching ministry, not just to daily conversation.
We find the same thing in Matthew 13:10. “The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” Jesus used parables a great deal in his preaching, and so laleo describes his preaching ministry.
Laleo describes the preaching ministry of Paul as well. Consider 2 Corinthians 12:19. “Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening.”
Peter And Speaking About Important Things
Peter seems to take this idea of laleo, speaking, to a higher level than just ordinary speech, when he says,
11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Do you get the importance of what he is saying here? Simply this: Take your practical teaching seriously. We want people to experience “the very words of God,” not just our own opinions.
What Does This Mean for My Preaching?
In your preaching schedule, you should include times when you give people good counsel. This means that you should regularly preach about topics like stewardship, marriage relationships, family dynamics, relationships with other Christians, how to be a better employee, etc.
Some people speak refer to this kind of preaching as “Therapeutic preaching,” as contrasted with Theological preaching. I prefer to think of it as preaching to the hearts, needs, and interests of the people to whom God has called me to speak. This kind of preaching addresses the practical lives of your hearers with Biblically based advice and direction.
There is a danger of making your preaching schedule only about practical things. Here’s a link to a blog that will discuss more fully the danger of just giving people milk when they need meat, metaphorically speaking.
So, in your preaching, make sure you include times when you give practical, biblically based direction for people to live their lives in a complex world. Make sure you are speaking about important things regularly in your sermons.
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