Love runs the world. There’s no doubt about it. Everyone wants to love and be loved. A huge aspect of love, arguably the most important, is communication. Think about it. Communication is vital. At our jobs, in our homes, at school, enjoying hobbies, shopping, going to church, and anything else involved in living life means we talk to people. If we want to love people well, we must know how to communicate well.
I thought it’d be a good idea to consult the wisest book I know in looking for guidance, the Bible. Surprisingly, it’s chock full of specifics on the subject. We can be sure that the guidance on communication encouraged in Scripture is synonymous with love. Frankly because God is love.
*For the purposes of not talking your ear off (that’s bad I hear), I will include only a few verses on the subject found in Proverbs. If you want more, there’s a ton of it in the Bible. Google it if you’re interested.
1. Be Gentle
Proverbs 15:4 “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 20:3 “It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
You may have been told by a parent at some point in your life– “Watch your tone young [insert gender].” Well, again and again, parents prove they know a thing or two. It is super important to be gentle. Repeatedly, Scripture points out the importance of the tone and manner of words. Not only is a gentle response better for the other person, it’s better for you too. I’d rather communicate with a whole and happy person than an angry and broken spirit any day. Gentleness brings the former and harsh words bring the latter. Be gentle, people. It changes everything.
It’s helpful to note that gentleness and brashness are framed as opposite in these verses. Gentleness brings life; brashness breaks it. This is a theme consistent throughout all of the Proverbs on communication. Therefore, when thinking of rebuke it should never be contradictory to gentleness. In other words, rebuke does not necessitate brashness. Don’t skimp on truth, of course, but don’t skimp on some gentle lovin’ either.
2. Think Before You Speak
Proverbs 15:28 “The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”
Proverbs 18:13 “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”
Proverbs 29:20 “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”
How many times have we grit our teeth, buried our face in our hands, and thought, “Man, I really shouldn’t of said that”? Probably a lot because we say some really stupid things. We’re imperfect and sometimes we don’t like to think before we speak. Not the greatest combo.
Have you ever found yourself wondering if you indeed should think before you speak? BREAKING NEWS: You should. When communicating, think before you speak.
Miracles can happen.
3. Don’t Talk Too Much
Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
Proverbs 17:27-28 “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
Proverbs 18:2 “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”
You know occasionally when you ask someone else a question only because you really want to answer it yourself? Yeah, that’s probably a sign you’re talking too much. “Too” implies more than necessary. Be careful not to keep yammering on. It doesn’t bless anybody, especially your vocal chords.
4. There is a Good Time to Say Something and a Not-So Good Time
Proverbs 15:23 “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”
Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Proverbs 12:19 “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
This point I found most surprising. The main message is not to be shy from sharing the truth, but to also realize that there is a good time to tell someone they need to get their crap together and an absolutely terrible time.
For instance, if someone is crying and confiding in you, it’s probably not the best move to be like “Well, you walked right into that one sucker.” There is a better way to say that, and, more importantly, a better time. Be discerning.
The goal of these points is not to give a “do” or “do not” prescriptive list for everyone to check off because, if it were, I would be screwed. I struggle with following every single one of these.
It is instead meant to be a helpful guide for the every day Christian as they grow in love as a direct result of the love Christ has for them. Growing in love is completely free and responsive, yet can also be guided specifically.
Here is a summary of guidance in Proverbs on the topic of communication. Be very careful not to speak out of negative emotion. It is unloving towards others and God, and it leads to personal destruction. Seek to be gentle when being bold in sharing all truth. Do not be harsh or hasty. Timing and tone is important. Be a good listener first, and think before you speak.
Love others through growing in communication.