Perhaps nothing is as difficult to overcome as the art of getting along with others and loving others as Christ loves us. This seems to be especially true in Christian circles. The scriptural guidelines are very clear as stated in Romans 14:19: “So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” Peace and the building up of others go hand in hand. Words and actions that are designed to encourage others and build them up make for peaceful relationships. How many miserable marriages could be transformed if couples could learn to overcome their selfishness and pursue peace by building up each other with kind, loving words and caring, encouraging actions?
Are you having communication problems with someone? Perhaps your problem is with your parents. Maybe it is between you and your child. Is it your husband, your wife, a friend, a member of the church, or a neighbor or co-worker with whom you have a bad relationship? If that is the case you must begin to communicate with that person. Few things are draining the strength of the Church of Jesus Christ more than the unreconciled state of so many believers. Far too many believers have unresolved conflicts that are like iron wedges dividing them from other Christians. When the Church of Jesus Christ should be marching victoriously in unity fulfilling the Great Commission of our Savior, the church is acting instead like an army that has been routed and scattered and whose troops in their confusion have begun fighting among themselves. I truly believe there is nothing that is sapping the Churches of God of their strength more than the unresolved problems and lack of forgiveness among believing Christians that have never been taken care of. Too many Christians refuse to be honest even when they are confronted with their behavior. They are in self-denial and dishonestly say nothing is wrong when it clearly is, as evidenced by their behavior.
Paul spoke in Ephesians 4:29 about a new pattern that we must be developing in our relationships. “Let no unwholesome word proceed (or pour out) from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (or building up) according to the need of the moment that it may give grace to those that hear.” This is the pattern for communication we must be striving for as servants of the living God! Paul is not simply addressing foul language when he speaks of unwholesome words. Of course, his statement would include that, but it is much broader. He is speaking of any word that tears down another, face to face or behind their back. Our Heavenly Father’s great gift of communication should never be used to cut up another person or speak evil of them. That is what the Bible is condemning: the use of our tongues to tear down, and cut up other people by our words of gossip, slander, backbiting, negative criticism, rumors and even sometimes by refusing to speak to others in a kind, polite manner (the silent treatment). Instead of attacking people with our mouths we, as professing Christians, should be directing all our energy, including our words, toward healing, reconciliation and the building up of others! Our goal should be with each word we speak to develop the Spirit of Unity in the Bond of Peace!
II Timothy 2:24 tells us we are not to quarrel but rather to be gentle to all, able to teach and patient. There should be no quarrelsome Christians. We will never debate anyone into the Kingdom of God. We must begin to learn the art of agreeing to civilly disagree and let God be the Judge! After all none of us is doing the calling! Why don’t we simply devote more of our energy to fasting and praying and to being kind and patient and letting our Savior do the judging of others.
Proverbs 21:23 offers some very valuable advice to every believer. “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from trouble.” Brethren, there are many times when we need to learn to shut our mouths to avoid the sin and destruction that can occur and other situations where we need to communicate in a Godly fashion with gentle kind words as we speak the truth in love! Our words have incredible power! They can hurt or they can heal! What an awesome responsibility we have to guard well what comes out of our mouths!
Used in the wrong way our words can wound and kill, they can alienate, isolate, divide families and destroy reputations. Matthew 12:36 tells us very clearly how much importance our Heavenly Father puts on the words we speak. “But I say unto you that every idle (careless) word that men shall speak, they shall give account in the Day of Judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”
How would you judge your own success in living what the scriptures say regarding your speech? We can learn to live without bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. It all begins with working to maintain an attitude of good will toward one another. We do this by being kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven you. Just think for a moment about what a wonderful Savior we have. It was not lovely holy people for whose sake he died; it was unholy, ungodly people. It was for lawbreakers that he suffered. He loved us, says Paul, in spite of the fact that we were unlovely sinners (Romans 5:8).
The Apostle Paul insists that, just as our Savior loved each one of us, we are to love one another! Love at first is not just a feeling. Love is first expressed in giving. To love we must give of ourselves, of our time, of our substance, of whatever it takes to show love; because giving is basic to the biblical concept of love. It is always in giving with which true love begins. This spirit of giving brings a new atmosphere into any home, any church, and any relationship. An atmosphere of peace and unity will grow when real biblical love is practiced. It is an atmosphere that creates a climate in which communication may grow and thrive. Think about your own life for a moment. Perhaps there is some action or actions you need to take. Possibly you need to confess your sin to God and then to someone else with whom you need to reestablish communication leading to a more intimate relationship through Christ. This is not easy to do, but our Heavenly Father desires that we engage in some honest self-criticism at times. Instead of yielding to the temptation to blame others, we should ask God to show us our own shortcomings and sins and then ask him to help us grow in that area. Really pray and fast! Seek God as King David did and pray. “Search me O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) This prayer will help us stop being critical of others and it will help promote healing in our lives and in the relationships we have in our homes, our churches, and our workplace.
Make your goal to become a Christian who always speaks words that comfort, console, and heal. Use your mouth to bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free. Most of the time in relationships it just takes the right word to bring healing and reconciliation. It might be “I’m sorry – forgive me” or “I love you – I forgive you”. Nothing fancy or dramatic, just the needed word at the perfect moment expressed with kindness and love will perform miracles. If we will make a commitment today to using our tongue in the biblical way, we can change the world beginning with our marriage, family, and church into a spiritually dynamic example of what God’s love can do!
Proverbs 31:26 “She opened her mouth with Wisdom; in her tongue is the Law of Kindness.”