Ephesians 4:29-32 Easy-to-Read Version
29 When you talk, don’t say anything bad. But say the good things that people need—whatever will help them grow stronger. Then what you say will be a blessing to those who hear you. 30 And don’t make the Holy Spirit sad. God gave you his Spirit as proof that you belong to him and that he will keep you safe until the day he makes you free. 31 Never be bitter, angry, or mad. Never shout angrily or say things to hurt others. Never do anything evil. 32 Be kind and loving to each other. Forgive each other the same as God forgave you through Christ.
The Word of God for the Children of God.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.
Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.
Building Others Up
While I was growing up, one of the things we were taught was to always tell the truth.
But one important ingredient in telling the truth was sometimes left out.
We were not always told that we should speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
As a result I’ve sometimes told the truth without any regard for how it might hurt the other person.
According to the apostle Paul, we are to say only “what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.”
Before we speak, we need to ask ourselves:
“Should I say what I am about to say? And is it the right time to say it? Will I be speaking the truth in love, and will it build the other person up?”
If we learn to speak the truth in love and say only what builds others up, our relationships at home, at school, on the job, and everywhere else will go better.
Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you use the gift of speech to build up others.
Communicating More Like Christ
Communicate with people long enough, and two things become apparent: no one changes their mind on a topic after being insulted, and not everyone can or wants to be killed with a constant barrage of kindness – it sounds disingenuous.
If you search online, you can find a ton of videos of so-and-so ‘owning’ so-and-so in a debate – it is more important for some reason to be greater than.
Has anyone ever left one of those “I am better because debates” feeling even the least bit changed or more likely wondering why they wasted their time, efforts?
In our own personal lives, great expanse of social media, we do not have to look hard for examples of people striving to be inoffensive in everything they do.
Yet, at some point, they cause offense.
Because there will always be someone who will automatically take that offense.
Both of these approaches are severely flawed.
If you want evidence, then look around.
We all know that something has gone terribly awry in our society.
How fast We have forgotten how to talk to strangers, how to find depth in our conversations, how to give, take criticism, and learn how to agree to disagree.
The list goes on and on.
We pride ourselves as good communicators without actually understanding what good communication entails.
And though we all see the ever growing, ever expansive array of issues present in our culture, we don’t “erroneously blame ourselves”, just all the opposition.
We are all too quick to blame other Christians, non-Christians. The Democrats. The Republicans. Men. Women. the Older generations. the Younger generations.
Philippians 2:1-3 Easy-to-Read Version
Be United and Care for Each Other
2 Think about what we have in Christ: the encouragement he has brought us, the comfort of his love, our sharing in his Spirit, and the mercy and kindness he has shown us. If you enjoy these blessings, 2 then do what will make my joy complete: Agree with each other, and show your love for each other. Be united in your goals and in the way you think. 3 In whatever you do, don’t let selfishness or pride be your guide. Be humble, and honor others more than yourselves.
Is it .001% possible, could some measure of responsibility rest with all of us?
Are My Words Too Harsh or Too Kind?
In my own life, I’ve experienced first-hand how people refuse to take criticism.
In my life and I am reasonably sure in your life and experience, we have had more than our fair share of people who refuse to acknowledge even .01% truth.
One man told me she was working on not talking so much about himself.
Naturally, I called him on it, to his immediate gratitude.
Two weeks later, after consulting numerous other people, he came back saying nothing was wrong with his communication and that I was a nagging egotist.
Likewise, everyone is striving not to offend in any way.
One elderly Christian woman told me that she makes every effort to call people by their preferred pronouns because she steadfastly believes they “feel better.”
Other Christians I know make jokes that are so tame and innocuous, yet still meet their words with rampant apologies, just “in case” there’s “any offense.”
Never in my life can I recall, have I heard someone consider themselves a bad communicator, not unless they suffered something traumatic like a betrayal.
In those situations, they are forced to confront reality.
For the rest of us, we strive ever harder, to be ever smarter, more politically correct, to keep up with the veneer for as long as we can, sometimes forever.
I’ve had to ask myself, am I a Christian whose words are too harsh or too kind?
That’s a righteous question every believer should be asking themselves today.
Someone has to be the impetus for change.
Besides, if we are to effectively model ourselves after Christ, we should do so not just in the way we pray or the way we trust, but in the way we communicate.
Ways to Communicate More Like Christ
Here are some ways we can do better to communicate more like Christ.
1. Avoid Being Too Harsh
Saying things just to rile people up is self-defeating.
Not only is the recipient’s mind and heart not changed, but you potentially ruin the relationship in the process.
Even if you’re not intending to be harsh, be mindful of your words.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and predict how they will respond to what you’re about to say.
Sometimes being offensive is necessary, other times, not so much.
2. Avoid Being Too Nice
Saying things just to get people to like you is self-defeating.
In fact, people-pleasing is a sin (Galatians 1:10).
10 Now do you think I am trying to make people accept me? No, God is the one I am trying to please. Am I trying to please people? If I wanted to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. [Easy to Read Version]
Rather than actually appreciating you, they’ll only appreciate what you offer.
The moment the offering stops so does their appreciation.
Furthermore, you enable bad behavior when you only go along to get along.
Apathy and Complacency results for them and for you.
3. Engage with People
People will remain strangers unless you talk to them.
Growing your social circles doesn’t need to be objective, but what about serving others?
The more willing we are to engage with people we know and those we don’t, the more we can display God’s kingdom here on Earth through humble servitude.
There’s an obvious difference between a community that communicates in contrast with a community who “politically” “socially” isolates that does not.
4. Be Honest
Be honest with other people, and be honest with yourself.
If you withhold the truth from people, then you’re being deceitful or, even worse, lying.
That’s a sin.
If you aren’t honest with people about their sins, then you are enabling them.
Don’t think for a second God will not hold you accountable nor blameless.
Similarly, sometimes people don’t give us the truth because they are afraid of how we will respond.
They don’t think we can handle the truth, and if they’re correct, that’s a serious problem.
If we recognize ourselves as sinners in need of a Savior, then we must be flawed.
And if flawed, then we can and should be admonished.
5. Stop Talking about Yourself
Too many of our conversations start, end, and endure because of the subject matter – ourselves.
How many conversations would we have, and how long would we bother talking if instead of discussing ourselves, we focused on other people and their ideas?
6. Actually Love People
A number of us Christians believe we are loving others, when in fact, we are doing just the opposite.
To love someone does not equal nor equate to being nice to them.
To love someone is to do what’s best for them.
Sometimes that love manifests as nice words and gestures.
Sometimes love manifests as punishment and criticism.
In either case, the intended result is the same – to help the other grow.
Connecting This With Living Into The Resurrection
Once we have identified ways in which we can grow and mature, then grow and mature into living into the resurrection life Christ Jesus died to exemplify to all.
Once we have identified ways we can help others grow and mature, then we help them grow and mature into the resurrection life Christ Jesus died to exemplify.
Obviously change and transformation won’t “simply” happen for them or for us overnight, but only by the grace of God, 100% change can and will happen.
And if we can change as individuals, then as a community, change is inevitable.
The signs of a degrading society don’t have to be qualities we accept.
We have the choice right now to be different, and if different, then better.
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Psalm 19:13-14 Easy-to-Read Version
13 Don’t let me do what I know is wrong.
Don’t let sin control me.
If you help me, I can be pure
and free from sin.
14 May my words and thoughts please you.
Lord, you are my Rock—the one who rescues me.
Bread of life,
through your life you taught us to put away bitterness and anger,
through your life you ministered to us with tenderhearted kindness
to humble ourselves, to share the fruit of our labor with the needy.
By your resurrection, by thy empty tomb, Strengthen us by your grace,
that in a blessed and holy and most sacred communion with you,
we may forgive one another as you forgave us all on Calvary‘s mount.
and with you alone in our hearts, live in love as Christ loved us. Amen.
Adeste Fideles! Laeti Triumphantes! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Amen.