Grace Giving: The Greatest Gift (at Christmas)

TEXT: Ephesians 4:29-32

For many of us Christmas is not the season of cheer and merriment, it is a time marked by fear, loneliness, disagreements and conflict.

Although the notion of goodwill toward men is noble, it is often quite the opposite. We are faced with family members who hate all things religious, co-workers who mock the gospel, celebrities singing songs that they have no understanding of, finances are often strained, everything is so much busier, and the whole ordeal can appear to be more trouble than it is worth.

Emotions are high; Feelings are easily hurt; relationships are severed; songs of truth are butchered; expectations reach a new level; culture calls us to enjoy what is often a financially, relationally, physically, and mentally depleting time!

How do we as Christians approach this period of time? The same way we approach every other time – with Christlikeness and grace.

This morning I would like to preach a message entitled: “Grace-Giving: The Greatest Gift you can Give This Christmas”.

1.    Guard your Mouth: Ephesians 4:29

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths…”


  • Imperative.
  • It is possible for Christians to operate with corrupt speech.
  • Our mouths (tongues) are dangerous.
  • The Bible has zero tolerance for corrupting talk: “no corruption”


“Corrupting” – rotten or putrid. Bringing impurity and pollution.

In short, this refers to speech which injures virtue, produces vice, scoffs at truth, is reproachful or harming of another, unseasoned by gospel salt, unsavoury, and includes but is not limited to: foolish talking and jesting, filthy speech, dirty talk, unchaste words, angry communication, proud and haughty boasts, arrogant expressions, lies, perjury, blasphemy, obscene vulgarity, slander, profane oaths and curses, and any dialogue which discredits, maligns, or inadequately represents the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cf. James 3:1-12

2. Good & Gracious Speech: Ephesians 4:29

“…but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”


  • The word “but” provides us with a contrast.
  • The word “only” speaks of exclusivity.

“Good” – Morally upright, virtuous, agreeable with all things holy, of the character of God.

“Building Up” – from an architectural term referring to promoting sound structure. This concept is sometimes referred to as edification.

The speech of the believer is to encourage, instruct, and uplift.

“As fits the occasion” – These words do not appear in the KJV text, but they are very important. This is the concept of modesty. To speak the right things at the right time.

God is not just calling us to “say good things”, but to say good things at the appropriate time.

Solomon said, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

In other words, modest speech is like luscious, well-picked fruit presented to you on an ornate basket or vessel of silver. Both the fruit and the vessel are presentable and fitting for the occasion.

“that it may give grace to those who hear.” – To “give” or “administer” grace to those who hear is to impose divine influence on them.

Gracious speech is godly speech. It does not mean that every conversation has God as the subject of it, but rather that every conversation springs from a heart that has God at the centre of it.

As God’s people, we are instruments of His grace. The primary way that this will be realised is through our speech.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to those around you this Christmas is good, edifying, modest, and gracious speech.

3. Grieving the Holy Spirit of God: Ephesians 4:30

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”


  • Imperative.
  • The Holy Spirit of God is referred to as a person, “whom”
  • The Holy Spirit was responsible for “sealing”.

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” To afflict with sorrow, to hurt.

In the context, this grieving is a direct result of polluting words, but also covers all aspects of sin in the life of a believer.

The Holy Spirit is grieved by our spiritual inconsistencies. In other words, as redeemed people with a new heart, He is hurt by our fleshly responses, words and deeds which are not in accord with our redemption.

“By whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”

A seal speaks of ownership and security. He is the seal that guarantees our preservation until Christ returns for us and our salvation is complete. Interestingly enough, Paul here uses the eternal security of the believer as one of the strongest reasons why we should not sin.

The seal cannot be broken by sin, but the relationship is strained.

It grieves the Spirit of God to see the believer’s progress interrupted by sin.

4. Putting Away Evil: Ephesians 4:31

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

Paul now lists six specific sins which need to be removed from the lives of believers. Each of these grieve the Spirit of God and are at odds with our new life in Christ.

  • Bitterness: The picture of one cutting open a lemon and licking its centre. It is a coldness fused with poison. It is the opposite of sweetness and kindness.

Bitterness begins in the heart, spreads to the mind, and produces poisonous speech. The writer of Hebrews warns against the “root of bitterness” and its effects (Hebrews 12:15)

  • Wrath: Although wrath and anger are similar, the word used here speaks of the commencement of anger’s passion. That initial frustration, annoyance which sparks the fully-fledged anger spoken of next.
  • Anger: This is the passion carried to its highest pitch. This leads to violence, rage, indignation, the desire to exact vengeance, and reaches its climax at murder.

Cf. James 4:1-3

  • Clamour: This word is used on only three occasions in the Bible. It carries the idea of: loud outcries of anger, noise, shouting down opponents, violent assertions of perceived rights and wrongs, railing boisterous talk.

All of these outbursts are highly unbecoming the meek, loving, quiet, sedate mind of Christ and his followers.

  • Slander: Sometimes translated “evil speaking”. This is speech which blasphemes the name of another. It is said with the purpose of bringing disrepute to the character of another. It is tale-bearing, backbiting, mockery, ridicule, defamation, character assassination.

John MacArthur: “Bitterness reflects a smouldering resentment.”

  • Malice: This is a basic and general term for all forms of evil. It is the root of all vices.

Some have suggested this list is a progression: beginning with bitterness within, which breeds internal anger and rage, which then produces violent and hurtful outbursts, which then gives birth to slanderous words intended to hurt deeply those who we oppose, and then finally culminating in all manner of evil.

What started as an internal root of bitterness within the heart of the believer (seemingly harmless) finds its final destination in all manner of sin, both internal and external.

5.    Grace-Giving Defined: Ephesians 4:32

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

What does grace look like practically? Here it is.

“Be kind to one another” – be polite, courteous, not rough, abrasive or sour. Be useful, helpful, actively easing the burden of others.

John Gill: “looking pleasantly on each other, speaking kindly to one another, and mutually doing every good office that lies in their way, and in their power.”

“Tenderhearted” – Compassionate, merciful, full of pity.

Cf. Mark 6:34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.

Cf. Matthew 14:14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Cf. 1 John 3:17 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?

“Forgiving one another” – To pardon, rescue, graciously restore one who has offended or violated us, to exercise kindness in the place of vengeance.

It is the highest Christian virtue to forgive, and it is the essence of the gospel. An unwillingness to forgive is the proof that God’s gospel is not fully understood.

Cf. Colossians 3:13 Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Cf. Luke 23:24 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

“As God in Christ forgave you.”

Here lies the heart of gospel truth.

You have been forgiven; therefore, you must forgive.

READ: Matthew 18:21-35


For many of us Christmas means opportunities to catch up with unsaved relatives. Let me encourage you to be a grace-giver this Christmas, and look for opportunities to build up, to demonstrate Christ in word and deed, and when things are difficult, operate with compassion, and always be forgiving remembering that Christ forgave you.