LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

While having lunch with a missionary couple from Brazil several years ago, we talked about family, ministry, and life in general. Afterwards, as I drove home, I thought about our conversation, and realized that every part of it had been positive, encouraging, and filled with thanksgiving. There was not one discouraging word. There were no attempts at humor using sarcasm. There were no insults or innuendo. There were no subtle attempts to establish credibility by criticizing others. The entire ninety minutes was spent in speaking to one another in the love of God. It was refreshing.

I’ve been in too many social situations where I have quickly joined the communication style of the crowd. Sarcastic comments fly off the tongue followed by forced laughter to cover the hurt that has been inflicted. Criticisms of people not in the group escalate as each person gains some misguided sense of value by belittling others. The experience of power over people soon becomes the group dynamic that promotes insults and injury to others. To some of us this may sound like a rather radical and extreme analysis of our average conversations in everyday life, but it really isn’t. We have become blinded to the emotional needs we try to meet through communication and to the damage our words do to others. We are destroying the influence of the love of God by allowing our speech to be motivated by the love of self.

Ephesians 5:19-20  “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle Paul provides us with the correct way to communicate with each other – we are to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The principle is this – when we talk to anyone, it is to be done under the influence of the Spirit of God so that our speech is filled with the grace of God and praises people. Let me explain. When we worship God, we praise Him. We praise Him for who He is and for what He has done. We are completely focused on His goodness. Paul says we are to speak to one another the same way. Our conversations with people should leave them feeling like they have been commended, not condemned.

Unfortunately, that’s not the norm for most of us. We more often participate in building ourselves up at the expense of others. It’s what Satan wants from us, because it destroys the impact God’s love should be having on others. James Dobson said it this way: “Satan’s most successful maneuver in churches and Christian organizations is to get people angry at one another; to attack and insult our brothers and sisters, thus splitting the body of Christ.” We seem to thrive on strife. We somehow believe that it makes us better to make others worse. We have bought into Satan’s tactic of comparing ourselves to others rather than to God.

There is an old legend that tells of Hercules encountering a strange animal on a narrow road. He struck it with his club and passed. Soon the animal overtook him, now three times as large as before. Hercules struck it fast and furiously, but the more he clubbed the beast, the larger it grew. Then Pallas appeared to Hercules and warned him to stop. “The monster’s name is Strife,” he said. “Let it alone and it will soon become as little as at first.”

This is valuable advice for those of us Christians who engage in criticism and counterblows, somehow thinking that it’s the best way to stop the blows of others against us. A gentle answer turns away the wrath of others. Kind words heal the hurts. Encouragement softens the heart. Praise brings good to the front of everyone’s life. It’s how God created us to live.

So let your speech be seasoned with grace. Let your conversations be positive, encouraging, and filled with thanksgiving. Let others walk away from your time together feeling built up and energized. Speak to one another in a spirit of praise. You’ll make others feel better, and you will too.

Pastor John

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