Communicating with Grace
Our church’s emphasis in the month of March is communication. Given the number of Bible verses that address the issue of communication, we must conclude that how we communicate is of great importance to God. Our words matter, and the Bible says that we must be careful to handle our communication in a way that honors the Lord.
Depending on what research study you read, there is some discrepancy as to the number of words we speak each day. For sake of discussion, let’s assume we speak 16,000 words per day. That is a lot of words, creating plenty of opportunity for our communication to be less than effective. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Did you catch that nasty little word? Did you catch the absolute, “NO”? None. No corrupt communication, not even a single word, should proceed from the lips of a believer.
Our words are never neutral, and sometimes our words are blatantly out of line with Scripture. The word translated “corrupt” in Ephesians 4:29 comes from the Greek word sapros. Sapros means “rotten,” “unfit for use,” or “worthless.” Rather than using speech that is rotten and putrid, we are to use words that are edifying to those who hear them. In Colossians 4:6 Paul adds, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt.” Are you careful with how you communicate to others? Are you mindful of the words that you use? Is your speech edifying, filled with grace, and carefully seasoned?
Words are the currency of communication, and we must spend them wisely. According to Mark Twain, the difference between the almost right word and the right word is “the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” It seems to me that Mark Twain is right on the money with his assessment.
Effective communication is one of the most difficult skills to learn; therefore, it stands to reason that poor communication is one of the major causes of interpersonal conflict. It is through proper communication that relationships are established and maintained. Without proper communication friendships cannot mature, conflict intensifies, issues go unresolved, and relationships deteriorate and eventually die.
Communication is difficult because it involves at least two sinners, and no two people see things exactly the same way. We all see the same events from a different perspective, and we filter the world through our own presuppositions. For two people to achieve effective communication, each individual must be able to delineate his perspective in a productive and appropriate way in order to reach a common understanding. Communication is more than just talking, it’s effectively exchanging ideas, thoughts, and most importantly God’s word.
Allow me to make three suggestions for us to prevent corrupt communication from leaving our tongues. First, we need to think before we speak. Just ask the simple question, “Will this be edifying to the hearer?” Secondly, the majority of us could learn to speak less. Sometimes the wisest thing we can do is not speak. Proverbs 10:19 reminds us, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” And thirdly, we can purposefully choose to speak words that are uplifting. Proverbs 25:11 states, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” We should judiciously use our words to communicate the right words, at the right time, and always with the right motive.
During the month of March practice not allowing any corrupt communication to proceed from your mouth, so that your future pattern of communication can consistently bring grace to the hearer, and glory to our heavenly father.
– Dr. Jay Knolls