How We Talk To Each Other

April 20, 2018 0 Comments

How we talk to each other is the surest indicator of what is going on in our hearts. Jesus said as much: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). In Ephesians 4, Paul gives us some valuable lessons on the fine art of effective communication. Good communication is the key to success in business, it is vital to the success of the marriage relationship, and having been a pastor for 44 years, I can say it is absolutely essential to effective administration in a church. Today we will look at five practical principles of communication and apply these principles primarily to marriage.
FIRST, “Speak the truth in love” (vs. 15). Here we find the perfect “balance” in interpersonal communication. Some people speak the truth all right, but it comes across as harsh, and unloving. Others, who tend to avoid conflict, keep things bottled up in their hearts and hesitate to share how they really feel. Both extremes are bad in a marriage. Cruelty in the name of “but I was just telling the truth”, and avoidance in the name of “I didn’t want to hurt their feelings”, are equally destructive. Paul gives us the proper balance here: speak the truth in love. SECOND, “Put away lying” (vs. 25). Nothing will undercut a marriage relationship faster than lying. The reason is simple: once a person lies, the trust factor is eroded. How many times can a man be caught in a lie about an extramarital affair, and the marriage survive? Truly, the lie is just as hurtful than the actual infidelity. As Christians, we should always speak the truth, whether it be witnessing for Jesus, reporting to our boss at work, or being honest with our marriage partner. THIRD, “Being angry, do not sin” (vs. 26). This verse assumes there will be times when we will be angry. Jesus displayed righteous anger in His life. But when that anger gets out of control, and we start saying things we will later regret, that’s where we step over the line. Some people just “lose it” and go off in a tirade of malicious verbal attacks. Perhaps the best rule for resolving conflicts in marriage is this: attack the problem, not the person. There will be times when it is imperative to talk things out, to have an argument, to have what I call a “fair fight”. But here’s the secret: “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” (vs. 26). Deal with the conflict. Discuss in a civil manner the differences of viewpoint. Confront the problem but don’t lash out at the person you love. Don’t “go to bed mad”—probably the best single principle of marriage in all the Bible. If you do, Satan wins. “Neither give place to the devil” (vs. 27). The word “place” literally means a “foot-hold” and refers to a spot in the wall of a city where the enemy could gain an advantage, get a foot-hold. Don’t allow Satan to ruin your relationship because you didn’t talk things through. FOURTH, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying” (vs. 29). My mother use to tell me, in regards to my teasing my sister: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.” Every word that comes out of our mouth should pass a three-point test: (1) Is it true? (2) Is it necessary? (3) Is it kind? Paul exhorts the Ephesian believers here to make sure what they say to each other is edifying. Do the words we speak build people up, or tear them down? Paul then goes on to list some of the destructive ways we speak to one another: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (vs. 31). Clamor means loud quarreling. Malice is the deliberate attempt to hurt someone with our words. FIFTH, “Be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another” (vs. 32). Kindness is the key to good, healthy communication. Be slow to anger, but quick to forgive. Christ has forgiven us, so we can forgive others. If all of us would apply these practical principles governing our speech, how different our homes (and our churches) would be!

Richard Seefried
Harrisonburg, VA
Richard Seefried has a Master’s Degree in Christian Ministry, and is licensed & certified by the NCCA as a clinical pastoral counselor.