John Powell says, “Communication works for those who work at it.” When you hear that quote you know it to be true. Yet, how often do you work on communication? In the book of Ephesians, Paul says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29, ESV) Accomplishing this feat will certainly take work on our part. Let us spend some time thinking about our conversation by covering three helpful questions that can aid you in accomplishing what this passage calls Christians to do.
- Why am I saying this?
- How am I saying this?
- When am I saying this?
First, we have motivations for everything we do. That certainly includes what we say. So we must ask ourselves why we are making this particular statement. In your conversation, are you trying to be kind? Are you trying to be cruel? Are you expressing grace and forgiveness? Are you expressing anger and revenge? You get the picture. Deep down you know why you are saying what you are saying. To live in a way that honors God and builds others up, we must stop and consider why we are saying what we are saying.
Next, we should ask ourselves how we are speaking. What are you communicating by your tone of voice and other non-verbal signals? What are you saying with your eyes, face, hands or posture? Even the sweetest comment can be undermined by a sarcastic tone and rolling of the eyes. Have you ever considered what the other person is seeing when you are speaking?
Finally, when are you making your comments? Is it a time when you are outraged to the point that you cannot control your emotions? Are you or your hearer physically exhausted? Is it possible that the other person has previously been through some trying times during the day? All of these factors will affect the conversation you hope to have. Remember, Paul says our conversation should fit the occasion. That can be taken to mean many things, but it can certainly include a person’s mental, physical or emotional condition.
Unfortunately, we do tend to speak without thinking. For the sake of the glory of God, let us slow down our words and run them through this filter. Perhaps our conversations will be more constructive and beneficial if we do.