How often do you listen to what you’re saying? When you speak to others in conversation or instruction, do you take note of your tone of voice or the way you are talking to the other person? Often we are so busy trying to convey our own message that we don’t think about what we are saying and how we are saying whatever it is. I wonder if you would want to be talked to in the way you talk to others? Perhaps that’s a good place to start in this self-examination.
Would You Talk to Yourself Like That?
In Ephesians 4:31-32, the Apostle Paul says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Think about each of those words for a moment. Bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. We would not want to be on the receiving end of comments or actions featuring those attributes. So, in the same way we ought to be careful to avoid speaking to others in that way. It will take intentionally listening to our words if change is going to come.
We are, though, supposed to fill our language with kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness. Those are words we long to hear. Those are the tones we need to hear. When someone speaks to us in these ways, we are usually listening closely. Words spoken to us in kindness and tenderheartedness express love, concern and care. The earsplitting words previously mentioned express no love, only harshness. Who wants to be rubbed by words that are as coarse as sand paper? Not me. And probably not you either.
How Would Christ Speak?
There’s more to this story though. Paul says that we should treat one another this way because Christ treats us this way. To the disobedient and rebellious Christ offers forgiveness. To the wayward and down trodden He offers mercy and kindness. To the broken and hurting He offers tenderheartedness. We should express this love to one another because we have received it from Christ. I wonder if you have received it. Your words can only reflect His love when you have received it. If you have received the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, I wonder if you are extending it to others through your conversation. It will take paying attention. Are you listening to what you’re saying?