Biblical communication

©2018 michael martin | mike@truthquest.org

1.what is communication?

We live in the Information Age; a time when everyone has the opportunity and the means to express themselves through social media, video postings, and more. But with all this self-expression, we have also seen the rise of anger, division, and strife.

In an age when it is easier to type out a quick, shorthand text message or social media post than it is to engage in personal, face to face conversation, it is all too easy to make inflammatory and hurtful statements, all bringing about consequences long afterwards. We have seen the truth of Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 24 coming to fruition before our eyes:

matthew 24:10-12

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold...

The fact is, our world is fallen and cursed. And when you give a cursed world a platform for expressing its naturally occurring evil desires, uninformed opinions, gossip, insults, falsehood, anger and rage, all without any direct perceived consequences, this outcome is only to be expected.

But communication is meant to be so much more than all of that. To begin, let’s take a look at the meaning of a few words...

a.definition of “communication”

According to dictionaries, communication is the imparting or exchanging of information or news., or a means of connection between people or places, in particular.

But take a closer look at the word. It begins with the word “commune.” So, what does that mean?

b.definition of “commune”

Again, the dictionary defines a commune as a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities.

So, “communication” is more than simply speaking or airing our opinions. It implies living, working and sharing with people as we talk with them. In other words, it implies a relationship.

So, communication is really commune-ication. Communication is most often achieved through conversation. Let’s take a look at that word.

c.definition of “conversation”

Conversation is the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words. To exchange ideas, you need more than one person talking. Again, the word “conversation” is made up of smaller words.

“Con” means “against.” “Versa” means “in reverse.” So conversation is really con-versa-tion.

In short, a conversation will have two sides, often with different perspectives and viewpoints. And in order for that to happen, we not only need to speak; we need to listen.

james 1:19-20

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Of course, there are many ways to communicate, and we’re going to take a look at a few of them.

 

2.destructive communication

Does it seem like most of the communication we hear in our world is divisive? Billions of people are expressing their opinions, many of them with little to no regard for the good or harm that will be done. Too often, we are careless with our words, with destructive consequences.

Let’s take a look at the causes of these careless and destructive words...

a.unguarded mouths

Whether they’re insults, words of gossip or slander, or coarse language or joking, our words always have an impact. But will it be a positive impact, or a negative one?

james 3:5-12

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. 6 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.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

So many harmful words can flow from an unguarded mouth. Gossip, coarse joking, and foolish talk flow freely, but all such words do harm once they escape the mouth.

proverbs 16:28

A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends.

proverbs 18:8

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man’s inmost parts.

ephesians 5:4

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

It’s been said that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, and a muscle that cannot be held still. It is for this reason that we should carefully guard our tongues.

psalm 141:3

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.

proverbs 21:23

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.

b.unguarded hearts

Guarding our tongues may be a good start, but it won’t solve the true problem. Have you ever “bit your tongue” and not said something that you felt? Have you ever deleted a text message or email that you had intended to send because you knew it would be destructive?

Guarding our mouths is better than uttering every careless thought that enters our minds, but the real solution lies not in our mouths, but twelve inches south.

matthew 12:33-37

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Scripture is clear that the words we speak, write, or type come from the overflow of our hearts. When we say something harmful and then say “I didn’t mean that,” it’s not really true. If hurtful or careless words flow from our mouths or through our keyboards, it’s because those thoughts are living in our hearts. Our goal, then, is not merely to control what we say, but to guard our hearts.

proverbs 4:23

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

questions to ponder

1. Do I often have thoughts in my heart that would be destructive if they were spoken?

2. What are some specific attitudes I have that I need to surrender to God?

c.puffing ourselves up

We all like to be right. We like to be seen as smart and knowledgeable and wise. We like it when people laugh at our jokes, or when we are the deliverer of some juicy bit of news. It feels good when we say something that others agree with or admire. But what is our motive for speaking?

proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

When we needlessly speak or write or post for our own benefit, we are puffing ourselves up. Take a look at social media. What is the purpose of sharing how many miles you ran or how few calories you’be consumed or how long you’be worked? Who does this benefit? Does this build up the hearers, or does it puff up the speaker?

colossians 2:18

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his nonspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.

We puff ourselves up when we needlessly share how knowledgeable we are about something, or when we make light of someone else’s experience or knowledge. “Aw, that’s nothing,” we might say when someone has shared a story, as we plan to one-up our brother with what we think is a better story.

These are some ways in which we puff ourselves up through our words, but the results are not welcome by others, and not helpful to ourselves either. Remember this warning from our Lord:

matthew 23:12

For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

d.puffing others up

On the other hand, sometimes our words do harm by puffing others up. We give people a false sense of security or confidence by stroking their egos or withholding needed correction. In doing so, we do harm to others.

proverbs 27:5-6

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

psalm 12:2-4

Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue that says, “We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips–who is our master?”

proverbs 29:5

Whoever flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his feet.

Remember Barney Fife from the old Andy Griffith show? While he was a wonderful comedic character, he was truly a pathetic man, living in blindness to his faults. In the show, Barney was kept blind by Andy, who not only didn’t have honest conversations with Barney about his obvious character flaws; he flattered and puffed up Barney through false statements, undeserved compliments, and outright deception. And all the while, Andy did harm to Barney so that he never ceased to be pathetic.

As followers of Christ, our goal is to build others up toward admiration and fellowship with God, not to puff up ourselves or our brothers.

Our communication should bring others into unity, not with our own opinions or viewpoints for our own comfort, but with Christ and His Truth, for their benefit. And if we ourselves are also living in unity with Christ, our communication will also achieve unity between ourselves and our brothers.

questions to ponder

1. Do I communicate so that others will admire me (puffing myself up)?

2. Do I puff others up with flattery instead of building them up toward Christ?

3. How can I work to ensure that my communication is for the benefit of others?

e.too many words

The more we speak, the more likely our sinful hearts will utter untruths or selfish or sinful ideas. When we do that, we do harm to our brothers, possibly causing them to stumble. It’s like Russian Roulette with our words.

proverbs 10:19

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

proverbs 20:19

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.

ecclesiastes 5:2

Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

proverbs 13:3

He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

As we can see, too many words can lead to sin; either by causing others to stumble or by speaking with wrong motives, so that we will be elevated in the eyes of our hearers. Our communication is primarily intended for building others up toward fellowship with Christ. And so as Proverbs reminds us again, we must always weigh our answers before we speak.

proverbs 15:28

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.

questions to ponder

1. Do I talk too much?

2. What are some things that I tend to talk about that truly don’t benefit my hearers?

f.too few words

On the other side of the coin, there are still plenty of people who don’t say much at all. Instead, they keep it all inside, never stepping up to say or do the things that really need to come out.

II timothy 1:7-8

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.

What if we were too timid to communicate the good news about Christ? What is the consequence to unbelievers for our unwillingness to communicate?

What about the brother who is in sin and who needs someone to speak up to point it out and to show them how to get back on track? Do we help these people by keeping silent?

Or, what about our brothers or sisters who need encouragement? To be sure, we have to be careful about talking too much. But we also have to make sure we’re not communicating too little. Do you have an opportunity to share Christ with someone or share what God has done in your life? Don’t keep silent!

hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Would someone you know benefit from Godly encouragement? Speak up! Tell your wife and children that you love them. Tell your brothers what they mean to you. Tell them what you appreciate about them or what they need to hear to keep pressing on with Christ!

epheisians 4:25

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Does your brother need to hear the truth about something in his life? The loving thing to do is to tell him. While we may think that we can spare someone’s feelings by keeping silent, it is more likely our own comfort that we are concerned with. This especially holds true when we fail to confess to those we’ve sinned against.

james 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Have you sinned against someone? Confess it to them. Communicate your repentance to them so that they will be encouraged!

In other words, when we see that it will benefit another person to communicate something to them, it is our duty to do so!

questions to ponder

1. Am I too concerned with my own comfort to communicate important truths to benefit others?

g.useless quarrels

How much of our time is spent engaging in foolish arguments that serve no purpose in building others up toward unity with Christ?

We quarrel over sports. We quarrel over movies. We quarrel over politics and social issues. And in all these quarrels, what is the goal? Do we merely want other people to agree with us? Is it really important that others agree that our sports team is the best or that our political views are superior?

Of course, we all have our own opinions and preferences and philosophies about various issues, but of what eternal consequence are they? Engaging in quarrels over non-essential issues only serves to divide us. Heed the warnings of Paul:

II timothy 2:23-26

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

titus 3:9

But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.

Even some arguments about trivialities found in Scripture can be useless. Do we need to quarrel over whether Christ’s return will be before, during, or after the Tribulation? What difference does it make?

Yes, there are plenty of truly important issues about which we may disagree, and they warrant constructive conversations. But even then, our goal is not to prove that we are right, but for both ourselves and our brothers to be brought into agreement and unity with God. There is no need to become frustrated or combative with those who disagree with us. So when disagreements arise, remember Scripture’s guidance about how to handle them.

proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

proverbs 26:4-5

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

proverbs 26:20

Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.

Believers in Christ will sometimes have disagreements, and that’s okay. But when it happens, we are still responsible to God to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel. So whatever our disagreements may be about, let us trust that the Holy Spirit will make the right things clear to us, and let us live up to what we have already attained.

philippians 3:15-16

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

questions to ponder

1. Am I too concerned with winning arguments for my own sake?

2. Do I needlessly offend others by expressing my opinions about non-essential issues?

3. How can I work to avoid foolish quarrels?

 

3.Biblical communication

As we have seen, there are many ways to communicate in a destructive manner. And the root of all that negative communication (or non-communication) is selfishness.

On the other hand, constructive, Biblical communication is motivated by selflessness or more precisely, love.

Communication is meant for creating unity with Christ, allowing us to work together and to build each other up toward fellowship with our Lord. But the manner in which we best communicate is often guided by our relationship to those we communicate with.

One great example is shown when the rich young man approached Jesus in Mark chapter ten.

mark 10:17-22

The Rich Young Man
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’’”
“Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Here we see a prime example of constructive communication. A young man who wanted fellowship with Jesus was given a hard truth. Jesus knew this man’s heart and could see that his wealth was hindering him from total fellowship with God. He also knew that telling him to rid himself of this idol would sadden him.

But the key here is when it says ‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ Because Jesus loved him, He had to tell him the hard truth about laying down his idol, which in his case was his wealth. Jesus LOVED him, and so could not withhold a life-giving truth from him just to spare his feelings. And so when Jesus told this young man to rid himself of his stumbling block—his wealth—it made the young man sad. But it was the only loving thing Jesus could do that would truly build him up toward fellowship with God.

Jesus communicated what was most beneficial to this young man, and He was able to do so because He knew him and He loved Him. And so, Biblical communication relies heavily on relationships.

a.building relationships

The way we communicate with other people depends upon the relationship we have with them. We cannot communicate as effectively to someone if we do not know them or their circumstances, and if they do not know us and our own circumstances.

It is important, then, to understand whom we are communicating with. That will involve turning our focus outward from ourselves so that we can listen to and observe other people, all with the goal of learning about and building relationships with others for their benefit. We can’t do that if we’re too busy spouting our own words. We should listen to the warning in Proverbs 18:2.

proverbs 18:2

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.

Think about it. While God’s Word speaks to everyone, it is the relationship with the Holy Spirit that truly opens our eyes to the Truth. God understands us, and so can effectively communicate with us. For our part, the closer our relationship with God is, the more His Word resonates with us.

Similarly, if we are to effectively communicate with others, we need to know enough about them to understand what they need to hear, and how they need to hear it.

For example, communication with someone in a time of grief may be different than with someone in a time of joy.

romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Similarly, to a sports fan, it would likely be more effective to use sports analogies instead of ballet analogies to communicate with him.

Jesus did the same thing. He knew His audience. They were farmers, fishermen and tradesmen. Jesus understood this and often used analogies involving farming, baking, laboring, the weather, and more to effectively explain the Kingdom of God in a way that His listeners would understand.

In other words, He knew them, He related to them, and He loved them.

So, how do we build these relationships? Well, for starters, we need to be willing to open ourselves up enough to talk to people we are not familiar with.

hebrews 13:1-2

Keep on loving each other as brothers. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

Our communication with strangers will often begin with whatever common experiences we share, such as the weather, or a circumstance we share. Whatever the case, we should be hospitable toward strangers or toward those whom we just haven’t gotten to know.

As we get to know people more, we can learn more about them and what their interests and experiences are. As we learn these things, we discover more effective ways of relating to and communicating with them.

This begins by simply showing interest in other people and asking them questions about themselves. Their answers can then spur on conversation and lay the foundations for knowing them better. Here are some examples of questions you can ask other people to know them better:

questions for learning about others

1. What do you do for a living?

2. How long have you been doing that?

3. Do you like sports / movies / music, etc?

4. How long have you lived here / where are you from?

5. What’s your spiritual background?

From questions like these, you can learn more about another person and how to best communicate with them. Show interest in the other person and follow their answers up with additional questions.

If you sense that the other person doesn’t want to talk, that’s okay. But in many cases, you’ll find that other people are more than willing to tell you about themselves, especially if you show that you are genuinely interested. In this way, you will learn what you have in common with other people and how to best relate and communicate with them for their benefit.

In other words, the stronger our relationships are with others, the more effective our communication can be. But it takes an outward, unselfish focus to build relationships that will allow for the most effective Biblical communication. Then, we will be able to better obey Ephesians 4:29:

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.

Building others up means that we should communicate what will be truly beneficial to them, not what is most comfortable for us. And to do that, we need to understand other people’s needs so that we can work to meet them. And to do all of that, we need to relate to them, just as Paul did in this passage:

I corinthians 9:19-23

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Here again, we see Paul working to relate the Truth of God to whomever his audience is. And that requires an understanding of his hearers, which in turn requires building a relationship with them.

Whomever we are communicating with, we should always seek what is most beneficial to others. With all of this in mind, we will learn how to best communicate with everyone.

colossians 4:6

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

b.conflict resolution

Of course, in any relationship between sinful people, conflicts will arise. We’re all sinners. We sin against others, and they sin against us. Conflicts are usually part of our relationships, and properly resolving conflicts can actually strengthen the bonds between people.

Jesus laid out for us the best way to resolve these conflicts. And while it is uncomfortable to do, it is clearly the best approach to simply communicate with each other in order to achieve unity.

matthew 18:15-17

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Take another look. First, Jesus instructed us to go to our neighbor to resolve the conflict. It was a face-to-face conversation. Text messages and emails may seem easier than face to face conversations, but they are also easily misunderstood. Your brother cannot see your facial expressions or hear your tone of voice, nor can you see or hear theirs. This is an invitation for misunderstanding with no opportunity to correct it until the situation escalates into an even greater conflict. So, whenever possible, we should seek face-to-face communication to resolve conflicts.

Next, Jesus instructed that the communication should be just between the two of you, at least to start. There is no benefit to your brother in embarrassing him in front of other people, unless other people will be harmed by not correcting your brother publicly. A private conversation allows your brother to correct his course without needlessly tearing him down through public embarrassment.

Finally, Jesus pointed out that a personal, one-to-one conversations provides the opportunity to win your brother over! This does not mean that our goal is to cause our brother to agree with US, but that he will agree with God!

But how often are we unwilling to take these simple steps to restore unity between ourselves, our brothers, and God? We assume that talking with our brother will be useless, or that he won’t listen, or that it will make matters worse. Yet, this is exactly what Biblical communication is for!

questions to ponder

1. Am I unwilling to give my brother enough benefit of the doubt to have a personal conversation about our conflict?

2. Have I assumed that my brother won’t welcome a chance to resolve our conflict?

3. Am I content to hold this conflict against my brother rather than resolving it to restore unity?

c.not breaking “bruised reeds”

Conflicts can seem tricky to resolve. We have to speak the truth in love so that our brothers hear the truth, and while we cannot water the truth down to the point of rendering it ineffective, we also need to use care not to over-burden our brothers.

john 16:12-13

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Think about it this way... Imagine if God suddenly confronted you with every single sin issue you have in your life; wouldn’t you be overwhelmed to the point of shutting down?

To be sure, the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, but He does so gently, so as not to overwhelm us. He often points out one issue at a time and gives us a chance to grow, calling us to lay down our idols one by one.

Here again, what we know about our hearer is of great importance. For example, if we are with a mature believer who uses profane language despite knowing better, we should confront him. But we might not want to immediately reprimand a new believer who is recovering from a drug addiction for inadvertently using profane language.

We can think of it this way: We cannot expect an immature believer to immediately become mature. Growing to maturity takes time. Therefore, our expectations of others should coincide with their maturity in Christ.

We must consider what will best help and encourage other people to grow in Christ. Consider this prophecy about Jesus:

isaiah 42:1-4

The Servant of the Lord
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.

In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his law the islands will put their hope.”

In this prophecy, Jesus is described as being gentle. Yet, we need to remember that this same Jesus also overturned tables and called Pharisees “whitewashed tombs”. He was harsh with the well-educated but haughty Pharisees. Yet, He was gentle with the “sinners” who lacked knowledge but desired fellowship with God.

Jesus responded to each situation according to what He knew about His audience. He spoke the Truth in whatever way His hearers needed to hear it; gently to the ‘bruised reeds’ and harshly to the hardhearted.

d.building others up toward Christ

Biblical communication builds others up, along with ourselves, toward unity with Christ. Its goal is that both our hearers and ourselves should be reconciled, not only to each other but also to God.

II corinthians 5:20-21

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

There is no profit in getting others to agree with us if we do not agree with Christ. Our goal is to build up, bless, encourage, spur on, admonish and bless other people. In short, Biblical communication is an expression of love.

So let’s take some time to consider what love is.

I corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

This famous passage tells us a great deal about how to build others up through Biblical communication. Let’s break it down:

Love is patient. That means that we should be patient as we listen to other people and long-suffering if we are offended by what they’re saying.

Love is kind. This is not to say that we should sugar-coat hard truths in order to spare someone’s feelings. Hiding the truth is not kind. On the other hand, playful ribbing between friends may not sound kind on the surface, but it is really an expression of love. Whatever we say, it should all be spoken from a heart of kindness.

Love does not envy. Envy and jealousy are expressions of discontent toward others and toward God.

Love does not boast and is not proud. How does it benefit others when we boast about our accomplishments? It’s one thing to be truthful, but it’s quite another thing to be boastful about it.

Love is not rude. When we interrupt other people, or when we monopolize a conversation, it is rude, as though our words are of more importance than the words of others.

Love is not self-seeking. Again, our communication should not be for puffing ourselves up, but for the benefit of others.

Love is not easily angered. As we communicate with others, we will sometimes hear things that we disagree with. But we should be careful not to take offense. It is seldom necessary to take offense at another person’s words.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. There is no benefit to re-hashing previous offenses that have been resolved. If a previous offense hasn’t been resolved, then we must work to resolve it Biblically.

Love does not delight in evil... It may seem juicy or entertaining or humorous to gossip or to tear others down for their faults, but it is not loving.

Love rejoices with the truth. This is the most important component of love and of Biblical communication. It is always based upon truth.

This means that our thinking and communication cannot be based upon assumptions that are not known to be true, or upon feelings or emotions. On the one hand, we must give our brothers the benefit of the doubt and not accuse them without evidence. On the other hand, we must not fail to speak the truth, even if it involves painful correction.

No matter how kind or gentle we may try to be, if our communication is not based upon truth, it is not loving.

While it is true that Paul defines love as the greatest gift, we must never forget that love is defined by truth. And the truth is defined by God.

I peter 4:11

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

We must never pass off our opinions and preferences as though they were God’s truth. When we communicate with others, it must be grounded in God’s Word and motivated by love. And so, if we are to communicate Biblically, we must live and walk in truth and love.

II john 1:1-6

The elder,
To the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in the truth–and not I only, but also all who know the truth–
because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from
Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, will be with us in truth and love.
It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

God gave us the ability to communicate with one another so that we could build each other up toward unity with God. This includes encouraging, teaching, admonishing, confronting, correcting, rebuking, and exhorting, all with the goal of building unity among the Body of believers with Christ.

I thessalonians 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

II timothy 4:2

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.

As we can see, there are many ways to build others up through Biblical communication. But the other side of the coin is that we must be willing to receive Biblical communication. This is beneficial both to ourselves and to our brothers. We should welcome truthful, Biblical rebukes and correction. We should recognize that our brother is trying to work for our best interests.

proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.

proverbs 13:18

He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.

 

4.conclusion

As you can see, God’s Word has much to say about communication; much more than we’ve covered here. But as with all of the commandments from the Law, we can sum up Biblical communication quite simply. We are to speak the truth in love.

ephesians 4:11-16

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Biblical communication is for the benefit of others. It requires listening and understanding, and is most effective when we build relationships with other people. It is meant for building others up, and so must be truthful and loving.

And so, to conclude, I will leave you with one of my favorite verses, and something I long to achieve.

psalm 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.