Thursday, October 25, 2012

Talk, talk, talk the Bible way (part 1)

The Bible has much to say about words.  This study is a relatively short consideration of what it says about our speech.  It isn’t exhaustive, per se, but rather comprehensive.

Communication is the Foundation for Relationships

First, I always look to God as the example of what our words should be like, what our speech ought to be like.  I think a theological understanding is foundational.  We know what godly speech is when we know what God is like.  And so, I like to start with a look at God Himself.

For starters, we know from the Scriptures that God is a “speaking” God.  He spoke and it was done.  He spoke creation into existence.  Gen. 1:3 “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”  The foundation of Creation is God speaking.  The foundation of every relationship begins with our speech as well.  I do not believe in the false doctrine promoted by the Charismatics called “word-faith” teaching.  I am not under the illusion that I can confess something and what I confess I will soon possess.  This is a gross misunderstanding of passages such as Mk. 11:22-23.  But when you see that everything in Creation began when God spoke it into existence, it isn’t difficult to see that the foundation of meaningful relationships must essentially start with words or speech.  It is interesting that the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s eternally begotten Son, at the outset of Creation in John 1:1-3 is called the “Word.”  Again, we can reiterate that words or speech is rudimentary to relationships.

Another observation about God is that He is a personal God.  He communicates with His creation.  He is a God of relationships.  He relates to us or He desires to have fellowship with us.  Some think that many of the founders or forefathers of America were deists.  That they held to a view of God that was detached from His creation.  It would seem that God wound up the clock of existence at the start of creation, and then steps aside to simply watch what would happen.  God is totally detached from His creation.  But our many of our founders reveal a better more Biblical sense of understanding of God by referring to Him or His work as “Providence.”  He is not a god who is detached or disinterested in our lives, rather, He is a wise and caring God who works in the background allowing for things to happen in order to demonstrate a sovereign plan.  How do we know that God is a personal God?  Take for example the phrase “the word of the LORD came unto” – If you look this phrase up in the Bible you would see that the word of the Lord came to individuals like Abram, Nathan, David, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah and many others.  This demonstrates that God desires a relationship with people, because He speaks to people.  God doesn’t speak directly and in the same manner to us in this particular dispensation, but we have a more sure word in the Holy Bible.  God’s perfectly preserved book is His method of speaking to us today as Christians.  God still desires a relationship with us and in a more limited sense, He certainly speaks to us.  In fact, if we are interested in a meaningful relationship with God, we must earnestly take heed to His word!    

Relationships are built on words or speech.  The surest way to ruin relationships is by not speaking to someone, or ignoring them or speaking rude or unkind words to them.  But, relationships are established by words, nonetheless.
God is our example.  Categorically speaking God’s characteristics (or attributes) can be divided into two major sections.  Primarily or essentially the attributes that belong strictly to God is called incommunicable attributes.  They are characteristics that are only true about God.  No matter how excellent our glorified bodies will be, we will never attain to the standards of God’s incommunicable attributes.  He doesn’t share these with anybody.  Indeed, this is what makes Him God and God alone.  This would be His eternality, transcendence, immutability, omnipotence, omnipresence, immensity, and omniscience.  No other creature could claim any of these attributes.   

But the secondary characteristics interestingly enough are called “communicable” attributes.  These are the qualities that are true about God that we as His creation have to a smaller degree the capacity to learn and possess by His grace.  That would be love, holiness, mercy, justice, truthfulness, long suffering, patience, compassion, goodness, graciousness, and the list can go on and on.  It is in this secondary division that we can observe God as our example of what godly speech is like.  We can say that godly words or speaking is speaking words which are loving, holy, true, just, right, gracious and so on and so forth.  Knowing God well is reflected in our speech.  The lack of spiritual knowledge of God can also be seen by what and how we say things.  We are to emulate Him. Do you words reflect the God of the Bible?  When people hear you speak, do they hear Christian speech or does your speech betray you?  If you were judged by the words you use, can the listener gather that you are a follower of Christ?

Communication Can Further or Hinder Relationships

Pro. 18:24 says “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

If you wish to get to know someone the best thing to do is to spend some time in meaningful communication with them.  Communication is not just limited to the transmission of information.  It certainly takes in more than just information.  The key to good communication is context because context builds understanding.  Remember the time when you were “dating” your spouse? (Please don’t trip over my word choice, you can read whatever term Biblically suites you, I am fine with that).  You spent an enormous amount of time in meaningful and effective communication.  If not, your marriage is probably in trouble or had gone through some really tough times.  But why is it that you invested time in communicating with your loved one?  Well, it doesn’t take a genius to know that you wanted a good relationship with that person.  Effective communication facilitates good relationships.  The fruit of good communication is good relationships.  Bad communication guarantees bad results.  When you communicate with one another you discover needs, and as a result, you do your best to meet those needs.

If you want to further your relationships then make sure you watch what you say.  The quality of our relationships is directly influenced by our words or speech.  Consider these Bible verses:

Pro. 10:11 - "The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked."

Pro. 12:25 – “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.”

Pro. 15:4 – “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”

There’s nothing like picking and eating a ripe fruit from off a tree.  Your words can be just as refreshing and delightful as that.

Pro. 15:23 – “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (see also Isa. 50:4)

Pro. 25:11 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Appropriate and good words are valuable or precious.

Ecc. 10:12 – “The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.”

Col. 4:6 – “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Our words have the capabilities like salt, it creates a thirst in the listener’s heart for more of the things of God.  Let us be mindful that our words can either further or hinder relationships.  Are you careful in your use of words to build or edify the people around you?  Are you building or tearing down?  What is your speech or manner of talk accomplishing in the lives of those who listen to you?

Part 2 of this blog series will be on Communication Frustrations and Fundamentals – be sure to check back sometime in the future.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Great post. God is indeed our example.