Vantage Point: Healing Words
By Ken Horn
July 28, 2013
Have you ever said the wrong thing? I know I have. People frequently say exactly the wrong thing. Often it’s because they don’t know what people are going through; at other times it’s simply because they are thoughtless or insensitive.
Christians sometimes blunder through relationships. Like bulls in a china shop — though unintentionally — we can barge through our connections with others, leaving broken pieces in our wake. And we may never even know it.
Damaging words can be unintentional or even misinterpreted, but they can also be exactly what we intended to say.
Colossians 4:6 instructs believers how to treat “outsiders,” but it applies to all our relationships: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (NIV).
The Message puts it this way: “Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down.”
It pays to be aware of this. Humor is usually a good thing, but it can also sting.
As we focus on family relationships in this issue, here are a few things we can do to keep from being clueless perpetrators of verbal offense.
Be loving. Care about everyone you interact with. Jesus instructed us to act in a loving manner with everyone, even our enemies.
Be considerate. This means to consider your words before speaking, and put others first. Don’t speak hastily or thoughtlessly. Consider the other person’s situation, and their feelings.
Be informed. This does not mean to get in on all the gossip. Instead, have a genuine interest in people. This will barricade against many clueless insults.
Be humble. When exalting or benefiting yourself is not your first goal, the other people in your life should thrive from their contact with you.
But what if you are on the receiving side of a potentially hurtful message?
Give the benefit of the doubt. Refuse to be insulted. Take it the most positive way possible. “Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165, NIV; KJV has “nothing shall offend them”).
Don’t strike back. If the meaning is clear and there is no way to take it positively, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Build positive, godly, loving relationships with the people in your life.
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