Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It's All in How You Say It

         For many of us, communication is a hard thing to do well.  Yet it is vitally important in healthy relationships, business and our church fellowships.  If we are going to live in the love of Christ, we must be able to communicate with clarity to others.  Unfortunately, our schools today have cut many of the speech, and debate classes which were once a staple in a well-rounded education.  As a result, we find that many people have trouble being able to clearly ask for what they want or need.  In addition, lack of communication can lead to misunderstanding, hurt feelings and as the Bible warns us "vain imaginations".  It is not only idle hands that are the devil's workshop.  An overactive imagination fueled by lack of communication is also a leading cause for broken relationships, church splits, and emotional wounds.
     When we look in God's Word, we find many verses that pertain to communication.  James writes a good deal about the tongue and what a world of trouble it can cause (read James 3).  He rightly says that with our mouth we can bless someone in one breath and curse them in the next.  Of course, this is the height of hypocrisy and further proof of our sin nature.  As Christians, however, we are to be growing in sanctification daily and guarding our conversations so it they may be edifying.   Paul told us to speak with one another using words of encouragement and to sing Psalms, hymns and make music to the Lord in our hearts (Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19).  Obviously, when we are speaking Scripture to one another, we cannot be engaged in unkind conversation or gossip.
     Another feature of good communication comes when we are honest with others.  We are told in Proverbs 26:28:  "A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin."  What God desires is that our conversation consist of truth spoken in love.  A great example is what Jesus taught about how to deal with a brother who is caught in sin.  Jesus taught that if someone sins against us, we are to go and speak with this brother.  If he listens, the conversation was a success and the brother is restored.  However, the person may refuse to listen.  Therefore, the next step would be to take two or three witnesses with us.  At times, this can clarify communication on the issues at hand.  If the brother still will not listen, then the matter is to go before the church.  Ultimately. the goal is to communicate in love so that a brother or sister can be won back (Matthew 18:15-17).  Notice as you read this passage of Scripture that our Lord never said we are to talk about the person behind their back but only to their face.  Restoration cannot occur without communication and understanding.
     Because we are Christ's ambassadors in this world, our conduct and especially our speech should be seasoned with grace.  There should not be slander, gossip, lies, off color jokes, or filthy language present among us (Ephesians 5:4).  Can we do this perfectly?  I wish I could say we could but it is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.  Likewise, the more we saturate our mind with the things of God as found in His Word the greater our success will be in communicating with others the true character of our Lord as well as His love.
     When I consider the importance of what I say, I think of two verses which I want to leave you with to think on.  The first is found in Matthew 12:34 where Jesus is addressing the Pharisees.  He says:  "You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of."  It is frightening to think that the words we speak come from our heart.  They reveal who we really are.  The second set of verses are found in Matthew 12:36-37:  "36"But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."  This is why communication matters!  Let us strive to watch our words and the way in which we speak to one another that we can build each other up for God's glory!  Selah!

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