The reality is that, for most of us, our words are wrong before they ever even leave our mouths, because they are often generated from an arrogant, self-exalting heart. OUCH! ZING! ZAP!
The words fly out and things like, “My ideas are correct; yours are wrong! My motives are pure; yours are suspect! My plans are wise; yours are foolish!”….. get spoken.
When words are drawn out of this poisonous well they will not be spoken in love even if they are “technically accurate”, because love does not envy or boast, and is not arrogant, harsh or rude (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Our hearts need to learn, that before we even clear our throats to speak we need to repent of the self-righteousness that drives all harshness.
Saint Paul spoke to us in Philippians 2 that if we would avoid harshness, our words not only need to involve a “flight from self-exaltation”, they need also to include a “rush towards the serving of others”.
Whenever I speak to anybody, I am addressing someone whose concerns are what Jesus wants me to consider above my own.
That means I need to speak as one trying to serve the very significant and important interests of others.
So very very often we speak to serve our own interests. We want others to hear our opinions. We want to air our own advice. We are eager for others to see things our way and laud our insights.
But friends, we are on the way to speaking “wise love”, when we repent of such motivations, and speak words that we honestly intend to serve and honor and understand others rather than our own interest.
In humility, we listen first, and speak last. As James 1:19 says, “Know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak.”
When I look at myself with sober judgment, and count your interests as more significant than my own, then this command makes absolutely perfect sense.
A humble look at of my own limitations, and an earnest desire to serve you, will naturally lead to a listening ear in order to discern how my words can be helpful as a counselor and friend.
We can turn this passage internally and speak first whenever we think too highly of ourselves and too little of the interests of others. People will sense that our words are harsh, insensitive, and irrelevant if they are not aware that we have listened sincerely and listened well, to their concerns.
In our pride we often desire to voice our convictions in such a way that a maximum number of people can hear how smart we are. The wisdom of humility sees a very different approach.
In humility, be honest about your own struggles and limitations. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus teaches His us a process of reconciliation that requires confession to take place before confrontation. His command encourages me to come alongside you confessing my own sin and weaknesses before I help you deal with yours.
This isn’t the way we often handle situations though is it? In our sin we like to avoid our weaknesses, limitations, and struggles. If we would avoid harshness, however, and work hard toward the goal of speaking the truth in love we must follow Jesus and learn to lead with our own weakness. Doing this will soften the hearts of our listeners, and most importantly, honor Christ.
Avoiding harshness as we speak with others means acknowledging that it’s rarely the case that the person that we speaking with is defined by their faults. Everyone has positive aspects that need to be considered, and mentioned. It is an act of love and humility to consider and share with others the good things in their character above and beyond any difficulties you are addressing with them.
Sharing such things is not a matter of avoiding difficult topics, or of puffing up their ego, but of basic faithfulness to Christ.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me,” Psalm 51:10.
In His Shadow,
~ Mary Lindow ©
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Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others – all generations, careers or vocations to live expressing excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She’s a sought after keynote, inspirational, humorous speaker and teacher across the U.S.A and internationally in Ministers & Spiritual leaders Conferences, and training seminars for various organizations.