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Welcome to today’s installment of The Merciful Life. So far in this series we’ve built off the truths we learned in our Mercy Series, and now we’re addressing the unmerciful behavior that needs to be removed from our lives in order to put on the merciful behavior God expects of us.
To that end we’ve talked about withholding malice and slander. And we started on the more aggressive and obviously sinful side of the spectrum, and we’re working our way deeper and deeper into the merciless heart of man.
We’ve talked about why our society is so incredibly violent and hurtful with their words, and we’ve searched our own hearts to discover if we are guilty of being unmerciful.
And I know that I am.
Every few episodes or so I share a personal detail about me and my family, and I thought that today presents a ripe opportunity for a personal testimony.
I, my friends, have a long history of anger. I have been very malicious. I wanted to hurt people, and I wanted them to know who was hurting them.
I’ve also slandered more people than I could ever count. I wanted to tear them down in other people’s eyes.
And my life has also been filled to the brim with the merciless clamor about which we’re going to talk today.
And I have to be honest and admit that even though clamor isn’t a word we often use, it’s still a struggle in my life, and I know it’s a struggle in so many other lives. In fact, I would put money on the fact that many under the sound of my voice are clamorous people.
So, allow me to remind you that if you’re serious about real change, we have free episode notes, transcripts, and mercy resources to aid you in your study. And we offer biblical counseling. We want to help you overcome your clamorous nature to the glory of God.
I praise the Lord that though I am still tempted in this area, and though I occasionally give in, two things are true.
Those who know me best can testify to the fact that God has wrought a massive work in my life in this area, and I look forward to showing you how you can learn to withhold the clamor that others so rightfully deserve.
And that’s the whole thing about mercy. Yes, the person “deserves” it. But that never justifies our sin. God calls us to be merciful as He is merciful, and that means that we don’t give people what they deserve or we don’t give them the full extent of what they deserve. But we always need to give God exactly what He deserves. He deserves our submission and full obedience in this area.
Now, before we start, if you have acknowledged that you are a malicious and/or slanderous person — and, yes, the people further down the line are usually guilty of everything that comes before it in the Ephesians 4:31 list — you need today’s episode as well.
We need to peal back the layers of this onion one step at a time if you hope to truly put off malice, slander, clamor, anger, wrath, and bitterness.
And it doesn’t matter if you have not yet made it all the way to malice, most of us slide back and forth on the anger spectrum — visiting each point along the way in our own unique forms.
I know this study is so important for me, and it is for you as well.
Now, let’s focus on clamor.
1. What is clamor?
According to Merriam-Webster, the noun refers to “noisy shouting” and “a loud continuous noise.”
On the other hand, the verb means “to make a din, to become loudly insistent, to utter or proclaim,” and “to influence by means of clamor.”
As you can tell, we’re talking about volume here.
The Greek word translated clamor in Ephesians 4:31 shows up six times in the new testament, and most of the time it’s translated “cry," “cries,” or “crying.” It refers to a shouting or yelling or calling, a tumultuous outcry. And — interestingly enough — most of the uses refer to something positive. For example, Luke 1:42 tells us Elizabeth’s response when the pregnant Mary approaches her house, “And she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!’”
But when this word is used to describe an angry attack, it takes on a whole different feel. Acts 23:6-10 shows clamor in action: “Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.’”
The word translated “cried” is a related word referring to a raising of the voice. But let’s keep reading.
“And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose.”
The New American Standard translates that word “great uproar.”
“And some of the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and contended sharply, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?’ 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.”
Now, I once did a podcast episode for Truth.Love.Parent. called “Is it a sin to yell at your kids?” The most accurate answer is, “Not always.”
Sometimes we can glorify God by raising our voices, and sometimes we are sinning.
In the Ephesians 4:31 passage, it is clear that this yelling is sinful, and it must be put away from us.
So, what makes sinful clamor different from righteous crying?
The key is the same as the previous episodes — the heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.
A malicious person wants to selfishly manipulate someone with pain.
A slanderous person wants to selfishly manipulate someone with another’s sin.
A clamorous person wants to selfishly manipulate someone with overpowering volume.
If my child is playing in the street, and moments before I see the out of control car, I hear it about to round the corner, it is completely loving to yell to my kids, “Get out of the road!”
But if I’m arguing with my wife, and I raise my voice to drown her out or scare her or I’ve completely lost all self-control . . . that is a sin.
So, are you clamorous?
I think the answer is, “Yes.” In the past couple weeks, have you yelled at someone because you were mad at them? It may have been while driving a car, I’ve seen people yell at the TV, it may have been a response to something you saw online, you may have yelled at a spouse, child, coworker, stranger, or fellow church member. Perhaps you even yelled at your pet because they did something you didn’t like.
That’s all clamor. And — if I’m being honest — I’ve sinned in this way this week.
And clamor is never merciful. We sinfully raise our voices to control, we sinfully raise our voices to do to them what they did to us or give them what they deserve . . . and none of that is merciful.
Therefore, in order to live a merciful life, we need to withhold clamor from our relationships.
So, what do we need to do to change? How do we renew our minds, put off clamor, and put on mercy?
2. How do you stop clamoring?
A. The first step is to determine why you’re yelling.
If the answer is focused outward, then you’re not going to be able to determine if you’re glorifying God or not.
If I yelled out my front door, “Get out of the road!” And then you ask me why I did that, and I say, “My kid needed to get out of the road,” we haven’t really determined my actual motivation.
I may have yelled because I was annoyed that they were disobeying me again. Or I may have yelled because I love them and it was all I could do to save their lives.
We need to focus our question inward.
Since most of us aren’t first responders, most of us don’t regularly have to raise our voices to save someone’s life. Because of our jobs, we may have to raise our voices to be heard above the din, we may have to get people’s attention and there was no other way to do it. But the vast majority of our clamor is likely because we’re upset about something.
And that’s how we can start to understand our true heart.
Here’s a general principle I like to use. The Bible repeatedly commands all believers to be joyful, content, peaceful, and thankful. If I can raise my voice in joy, peace, contentment, and gratitude, it’s completely okay.
But if I’m not at thankful for the situation, I won’t be content, I’m not going to experience the peace that passes all understanding, and I definitely won’t be joyful. And if I’m raising my voice in situations like that . . . no doubt there is sin involved.
Another way to rightly judge yourself is to see what it takes to lower your voice.
For example, if my yelling is motivated solely by my love for my kids and my attempt to save their lives, once they’re free from danger, there’s no reason to keep yelling.
Generally speaking, however, clamorous people won’t relent until they get you to understand their side. If you won’t lower your voice until everyone submits to you by agreeing with you or doing what you want . . . that’s clamor.
And the worst forms of clamor often don’t stop yelling even after they get what they want. They’re so angry and self-worshipping that they keep yelling even though everyone has gotten in line and submitted.
What it takes to lower your voice is a neon sign pointing at your real motivation.
Real quick, let’s consider that parent yelling at their child in the road. We’ve all seen it in movies, the child moves just in time, the car speeds past. By this point the parent has run across the street and grabs their child while they continue to yell, “What were you doing?! Don’t you know how dangerous that is?!”
Though the parent may have started with a noble motivation to save their child, likely because of the boost of adrenaline other sinful responses also get thrown on the pile. Now I’m thinking about the fact that I’ve told you so many times not to do that, now I’m afraid that it may happen again, and now my volume is being motivated by something very different.
Once we understand why we’re raising our voices, we need to submit our communication to Scripture.
B. We need to communicate Truth.
People often get angry because they’ve lied to themselves. It’s easy to stew every day in your secular college when you’ve convinced yourself that no one likes you just because you’re a Christian.
And even if it’s true that everyone in school hates you because you’re a Christian, if you’re upset about it, you’re lying to yourself about God’s power and purpose in the situation. You’re also lying to yourself about God’s expectations for a righteous response to the situation.
And if you know what God says, but you think that God is unkind to allow it, you’re now lying to yourself about that.
I’m going to say that 100% of angry outbursts are caused by believing a lie.
So, I have this standing rule in my life and home that since communication cannot happen unless we’re all speaking truth, when something is said that is a lie (intentional or not), we really can’t move forward until we address it.
In their tirade, clamorous people are likely going to say something that’s not true. That’s not allowed.
If we only ever spoke truth, we would lose many of our excuses for raising our voices.
But what about all the people who scream and shout all the while saying things that are true?
C. We need to communicate Truth in love.
God commands us to be humble, patient, kind, and forgiving.
It’s kind of hard to imagine most shouting falling within those parameters. It can happen. I’ve already given some examples, but the vast majority of our yelling would cease if we were humble, patient, kind, and forgiving.
As we submit to God’s expectations for communication, our volume will usually fall.
By the way, consider your malicious and slanderous streaks. Those too will shrivel up in the light of joy, peace, contentment, gratitude, humility, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.
Okay, once we determine the heart of our yelling, we need to submit to the truth of God and the love of God for the glory of God.
D. We need to communicate for God’s glory.
I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Whenever you speak, do it in such a way that God is glorified by it.
Colossians 1:18 teaches that Jesus Christ “is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
God deserves first place in all of your communication.
Clamor doesn’t communicate. Clamor manipulates, clamor violates, but clamor doesn’t communicate.
Let’s consider Isaiah 5:8-17. This is an interesting passage with many applications. It reads, “Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land. 9 The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: ‘Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. 10 For ten acres of vineyard shall yield but one bath, and a homer of seed shall yield but an ephah.”
God starts by offering a condemnation on those who are greedy. Then He says, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12 They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands. 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst.”
In this section God condemns those who seek satisfaction and pleasure outside of God and His will.
And then verse 14 says, “Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.”
The word translated “reveler” is a Hebrew equivalent to our Greek understanding of clamor. It describes a terrible uproar. This uproar may be one of anger or it may be one of wicked delight, but God clearly explains that Hell is their final destination if they continue in their sin.
Then verses 15 through 17 provide the salvation from such a fate: “Man is humbled, and each one is brought low, and the eyes of the haughty are brought low. But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness. Then shall the lambs graze as in their pasture, and nomads shall eat among the ruins of the rich.”
Instead of being humbled by God, we need to humble ourselves before God. We must exalt Him to His rightful place and remove ourselves from the throne of our lives.
Now, again it’s really important to acknowledge two truths:
1. The Holy Spirit has the power to change anyone if they submit to Him. However . . .
2. Most people need assistance and accountability in putting off life-dominating sin.
I’ve given you so many truths that if you submitted to them in the power of God for the glory of God, you will automatically start seeing change in your life. You will become more merciful with those at whom you would have previously yelled.
But it’s a hard journey. Our flesh is stronger and more wicked than we realize, and too often our attempts are made in our own power, and we fail, and we flounder in moments of victory and seasons of sin over and over.
My friends, please get biblical help.
The goal of these episodes is to simplify your action steps. Taking these steps is going to be a lot more challenging than simply talking about them.
This is why we need help. We need to be unified with God and unified with His people so we can have accountability and assistance.
Find a mature follower of Christ who knows the Bible and can teach you, reprove you, correct you, and train you. Invite them to participate in your sanctification. Let them know that you have been learning just how unmerciful you are, but you recognize that your merciless responses are an affront to God and others, and you would like them to keep you accountable and help you change.
And if you don’t know anyone who falls under that category, please send an email to Counselor@CelebrationOfGod.com. We would be honored to help.
Whatever you do, give God the worship that He deserves by withholding clamorous responses.
As always, please share this series with God’s people so they too can learn to live a merciful life, and join us next time as we seek to better know, love, and worship God and help the people in our lives do the same.
To that end, we’ll discuss how to be merciful by withholding anger.
The Year Long Celebration of God is a discipleship experience designed to equip followers of Christ to better know, love, and worship Him as they help others in their lives do the same. We exalt God, teach His people how to practically worship Him every day of the year, and train them to disciple others.
Whether it's a small group, church, classroom, one-on-one, or community relationship, this resource is guaranteed to draw people closer together as they draw closer to God.
AMBrewster is the creator of The Year Long Celebration of God and host of its podcast.