Verbal communication is part of everyday life. Perhaps nothing else brings such a combination of joy and frustration than the way we talk with each other. James expresses it the way:
With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.
The Holy Spirit has provided tools and directives to keep your talk both healthy and holy. Here are some of them:
Check your Heart Attitude:
Consider others more important than yourself. (Philippians 2:3-5)
Let love be in control:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts. (From 1 Corinthians. 13:4-7)
This passage provides a reality check for your own heart. This is what love looks like in action. This is the source of talk that honors God and others.
Be an Epic Listener:
Don’t answer with your words or thoughts before you have listened completely. (Proverbs 18:13)
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)
Work faithfully at being an expert, caring, and wise listener. (Proverbs 18:15)
Don’t act or assume something is true without carefully verifying it first. (Proverbs 18:17)
Speak only what is helpful:
Soft, gentle answers turn back anger. Anger is never helpful in marriage or family communication. (Proverbs 15:1; James 1:19-20)
Pleasant words bring healing. (Proverbs 16:20-24)
Words that do not build up, encourage and benefit the hearer are rotten words. (Ephesians 4:29)
Saying what you believe to be true is never a reason to avoid the directives of love when talking. (Ephesians 4:15)
To see if you are talking as God commands when you are having a dispute, say something like this in a calm and loving tone:
“This is what I understood from what you just said. Is that what you meant or did I misunderstand?”
Stay with it until you hear, “Yes, that is exactly what I meant.”
This requires sacrificial love. It lets the other person know that you are following Christ by considering him or her more important than yourself (Phil. 2:3-4)
Does your family have confidence that they will be able to say all that is on their hearts without fear of your response?
Are you an advocate or an accuser in your daily communication? Do your words create safety or anxiety for your family?
Follow these guidelines to produce talk that is glorifying to God and building for your family.