THE GODLY ART OF COMMUNICATION
Communication is a gift from God. We alone, of all creation, possess mastery of speech and written language. Yet often we fail to use this gift in a way that glorifies God. Poor communication can devastate relationships. Fortunately, God has left clear instructions on the subject. Following are some relevant scriptures:
Ephesians 4:15, Speaking the truth in love . . .;
Ephesians 4:25,27, Let each one of you speak truth to his neighbor . . . Be angry, and do not sin;
James 1:18, Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God;
Proverbs 19:20, Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days; Proverbs 15:1, A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger; Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
These verses clearly show that God’s design for godly communication involves truth, love, listening, answering softly, accepting counsel and instruction, and grace. I believe it also requires a healthy dose of humility. These qualities stand in stark contrast to sinful behaviors like pride, anger, selfishness, arrogance, unforgiveness, untruthfulness, and jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Such sinful behaviors erect barriers between people and do not promote healthy communication.
As we attempt to communicate in a more godly manner, there are seven attitudes that can help:
1) Approach conversations with the “Jesus” perspective: “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
2) Make it possible for the other person to express himself or herself without fear.
3) Do not use your communication to belittle or punish.
4) Put away pride, so that you can hear.
5) Put away anger, so you can speak in love.
6) When facing criticism, look for the “golden nugget” of truth, and then act on that truth.
7) Determine to exercise these fruits of the spirit in all communications: love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control.
Remember too, that the person you wish to communicate with is also created in God’s image, just as you are, and that alone makes them worthy of your respectful consideration.
Dr. Susan Haberkorn, NCCA Licensed Clinical Pastoral Counselor