Marriage, raising children, relationships at work, and even friends at church can sometimes present to us “impossible situations”. What do you do when you’re feeling neglected as a spouse? What do you do when your teenager is giving you cause for concern? What do you do when you feel like an entire relationship is dead? Although you may not know exactly what steps will improve the situation you can at least know where to begin. Start with communication! Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” In applying this to the matter of relationships it means your words have the potential to bring death or life to a relationship. (For an example of a man who chose his words foolishly study 1 Kings 12:1-10.)
Self-Examination First (Luke 6:41-46)
This passage is often taught in an incomplete way. Jesus is not prohibiting careful helpful judgment- the pulling of specks out of eyes. Rather he is prohibiting a hypocrite (someone with a plank) from attempting such a precise action! Jesus’ teaching necessitates that anyone who is serious about communication should take time for self-examination before the conversations begin. Without self-examination there is the possibility of misperception (6:41), harm (6:42), and further hypocrisy (6:42). Examine your own “eye” before you examine the “eye” of someone else. Are you guilty of the same sins? This should give you a spirit of humility, (Gal. 6:2). Are you worthy of the same punishment as the one with whom you wish to speak? This should grant you a spirit of forgiveness. Christ forgave you, you also should forgive, (Eph. 4:32). This passage also presents to us the hopeful possibility of success! After you make sure your eye is clear of planks, you can go on to help your friend in a spirit of humility and forgiveness!
Three Practical Goals (Prov. 10:31, 12:18-19, 15:4)
Proverbs 10:20 says, “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth.” After you’ve examined your own heart you must choose your words carefully. You must “get out the good silver” for the conversation you are about to have. The Bible presents us with many proverbial principles which give us outstanding goals for Christian communication. Here are three simple ones:
1) Speak truth, (Prov.12:19).
2) Speak wisdom, (10:31).
3) Speak health, (12:18, and 15:4).
In this series on Sunday nights we’ll be looking in more detail at each of these three goals. (For an example of a Man who chose his words well study John 8:1-14.)