Thursday, November 1, 2012
Talk, talk, talk the Bible way (part 2)
Review – In the last post (which you can read below) we looked at the person of God as the basis of good speech and its effects on relationships. And now we move on to two main and final points for the completion of this series.
Because communication is a two-way street, here are some red flags to notice in the area of words and speech. Bad communication can cause problems and frustration in relationships, here are some Biblical considerations:
First, Answering, or responding, or making a judgment call, or a decision (tautological, I know) is shameful communication. The Bible says: “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Pro. 18:13). Here are some Biblical considerations that could help refute this terrible habit.
a. Ps. 39:1 - I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
b. Pro. 13:3 - He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
c. Pro. 21:23 - Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
d. James 1:19 - Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
e. 1 Peter 3:10 - For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Second is being hasty with words. Have you ever had a conversation with somebody and you haven’t finished your thoughts, and you were interrupted? Usually, I am the one interrupting, ha! I get this way. I speak by experience. It can be disrespectful at times and therefore not good. Sometimes, this attitude demonstrates a lack of valuing the other person’s words or ideas. Sometimes, it’s dismissive. At any rate, the Bible has something to say about this. At times, we should tell ourselves to temper our words.
a. Ecc. 5:2 - Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
b. Pro. 10:19 - In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
c. Pro. 17:27 - He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
Third, cutting words. Someone said: “sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but names (or words) will never harm me.” I don’t know if the person who said that ever existed. Our words can be mediums of destruction, and so we must take great care of not only what we say but how we say it.
a. Ps. 50:19 - Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.
b. Ps. 52:2 - Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
c. Ps. 52:4 - Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.
d. Ps. 57:4 - My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.
e. Ps. 64:3 - Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words.
We all need to practice James 1:19 in the area of words and speech. Sometimes it is wise and best to "suspend judgment" (as Mortimer Adler teaches in his epic book How to Read a Book). A critic always solicits an immediate response. Don’t act like a critic by being hasty with words. Our goal in communication is to further relationships, not necessarily “winning” an argument-scrimmage. And what about giving someone that undivided attention? You're not texting, "Tweeting", checking your phone, refreshing a browser, turning a page, managing one more item, but totally tuned into the other person, with eye contact giving them your undivided attention. The thing about speaking is the other half of listening. When we talk too much it is obvious we listen very little. But listening is for an entirely different blog post.
A. Our words reflect what is in our hearts, it’s like a window to the heart. Matt. 12:34 - O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
B. Our words will one day be judged by God – Ps. 19:14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Matt. 12:36 - But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. If we must give account to every idle word, how much more shall we be held accountable for words that we speak on purpose?
C. It is more important to focus on how we say things than what we actually say. Pro. 15:1 - A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 1 Pet. 3:15 - But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. Always ask yourself: "is there a better way of saying it?"
D. Our words can greatly influence our entire being and others around us. Prov. 18:21 - Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. James 3:1 ¶ My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.  For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.  Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.  Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
I trust that if anything else that you and I would be drawn to the study of God’s word re: words, speech, mouth, tongue, etc. And more than just looking at these verses actually put them into practice. That would make for good communication.
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