Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Learning to Converse

     Conversation is an art and blessed is the person who learns how to master it.  There are two parts to conversation which people often overlook.  The first part is speaking and sharing our thoughts with another person.  For most of us, this is easy.  However, the second part is where difficulties can arise.  A good conversationalist is also a good listener.  I know some folks whose whole focus is on talking thus keeping others from joining in.  They monopolize a gathering and avoid interacting with others in the process.  In order to carry on a meaningful dialogue on any subject, we must learn to speak with wisdom and listen with care.  This is especially true when we are sharing the Gospel, but it holds true in our relationships in the home, at work, and in church fellowships as well.
Our son Aaron talking with sister Jordan
     While I have always been a talker (which is why I majored in communications at college), I have learned over the years to remain silent at times.  For example, it is much better to be quiet in the heat of a disagreement than to say something you would later regret.  Being quiet is, at times, the appropriate response when we want to jump in and try to fix someone else or their ideas.  This is never a right motive anyway.  God alone is the one who changes the heart.  Our words can carry condemnation or encouragement.  They can win someone to the Lord or drive them far away.  Speech can build up or tear down another.  It can show respect one moment and disrespect the next.   People know us by our fruit and by our words.  If we are a sharp tongued viper, we will not draw many to the cause of Christ.
     In order to learn how to be a good conversationalist, we really need not look any further than our Bible.  Truly, there are countless verses that teach us how to relate with one another in godly communication.  For example,  1 Thessalonians 5:11 reads:  "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."  Jesus warned us about our words in Matthew 12:36-37:  "But I say to you for every idle word that men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned."  Just by reading these two verses we learn that we are to encourage and build each other up, and we also must guard our lips against idle words because God will judge what we say. Additionally, did you know that words carry the power of life and death?  Proverbs 18:21 reads:  "The tongue has the power of life and death."   Other scriptures include:  I Peter 4:11; James 3:9-10; Proverbs 12:18; Psalm 17:3; Proverbs 12:14; Ecclesiastes 9:17 and Proverbs 12:18 to name a few.  Obviously, the Lord thought this subject very important in the scheme of our conduct.
     Here are some rules to help us as we learn to converse in a godly manner.  When we speak to others, we should remember to speak with kindness rather than with anger.  Shouting or use of unkind words is unnecessary.  We must:  1) Think before we speak 2) Wait for our turn to speak and 3) Avoid arguments and quarrels as it comes to nothing but hurt feelings.  Things we should avoid in speaking to others include:  1) Do not stoop to the other person's level especially if they are argumentative.  Take the high road.  2) Don't mock others - it only produces antagonism instead of understanding.  3) Don't insult others or make fun of them.  4) Don't use filthy language.  5) Do not lie or tell falsehoods.  God abhors a liar.  6) Do not slander someone or ruin their reputation and 7) Do not gossip.  This can do more damage than any other means within a body of believers.
     Things we need to do in godly conversation include:  1) Be truthful.  Jesus is the truth and we are to emulate our Master.  2) Be happy, cheerful and joyful.  Everyone needs someone who will lift their spirits.  3) Strive to encourage others as you converse.  The world is filled with gloom and doom enough. We need to spend time lifting one another up in Christ.
     I encourage each of you to do a search of scripture for more verses pertaining to our words and conversation.  I think we would all be surprised at how much God has addressed this subject.  Being a good conversationalist isn't just about getting along in a group of means far more for the Christian.  Our influence in the lives of others comes as a result of the character we display in the words we speak and how we take time to listen to someone else.  We want to reflect the love, grace, and holiness of God.  Sometimes we use words to make a point and at other times, we need to listen.  May God grant us the grace and wisdom to know when to speak and what to say so that we may glorify His name.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights here.  How has God been teaching you to converse with others?

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