Today’s post is from the category I like to call EndNotes. One of the challenges with every message is the process of editing. EndNotes are those sections which I hated to lose but unfortunately did not survive the final cuts! I hope you are blessed by today’s post.
At the conclusion of our final message in our Be a Builder series we landed on the idea that our calling to be builders is never nullified. Look again at Ephesians 4:29.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
At the end of the day, this standard remains. What comes out of our mouths should only be “what is helpful for building others up.”
Today I want to highlight three areas you might consider establishing some standards as you think about how you will and will not choose to speak into the lives of others.
How I will talk to another
In pre-marriage counseling I always spend some time talking with couples about some of the standards for speech each person learned in their family of origin. In the early years of marriage, couples often find themselves bumping up against some of their own unspoken assumptions based on our individual experiences.
For my wife and I one of our early realizations is that while I grew up in a house that was fairly loud, she grew up in much more quiet home. Neither was bad, but they were very different which led us to a really healthy discussion about what our standard would be in our home and in our relationship with each other.
What that led to is a boundary we created for one another, and while I know this may sound crazy to some,
We never raise our voices to one another.
We established that as a boundary and it is a line that I cannot remember either one of us having ever crossed with one another.
Your standard might not be the same, but it might be incredibly helpful for you to talk to those with whom you share a significant relationship about what the standards for your communication with another should be.
I would also encourage you to think about how you would choose to speak to anyone in your life including a complete stranger. Never raising your voice may not be the standard you set in a specific relationship but might be a healthy standard for how you would generally speak to others.
How I will talk about another
We all have experienced the pain of hearing from a third party something that another person shared about us. What often elevates that is when something is verbalized that is in stark contrast to what that person may have said to us directly.
While we all know the pain of that, we often fail to think about the pain we cause others when we act in similar ways.
This is another area where the health of a married couples relationship is often damaged. It happens when a husband or wife chooses to say something disparaging about their spouse when they are not present. It is incredibly hurtful and a violation of the trust that should be found at the center of any marriage relationship.
Take some time to think about the standards you have for yourself in the way that you would talk about someone in the presence of others.
Do you have the same standards for yourself that you would also expect from others in how they might talk about you?
What I allow others to say about someone else
The third area is very similar to the second. This is where gossip – which in an isolated act is already so damaging to others – can really explode into terrible harm.
There are few things more destructive to unity, maturity and healthy relationship than gossip.
It poisons the soul of those who speak it and those who indulge themselves by listening to it.
Listen to what the writer James says about the power of our words.
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6
When James speaks about how words can determine the trajectory of one’s life, leading some to life that feels like heaven or a life that feels like a living hell, you can bet that gossip is often a part of the latter.
I think being a builder includes setting some clear standards for how you choose to speak into the lives of others.
It is making a firm commitment to not only refrain from gossip but also, in grace, asking others who might speak in such a way to not share that with you.
And while that may sound uncomfortable, God just might use your courage to help another see the destructive power of their words and choose to respond differently in the future.