Speak truth in love.

I know you have been on the wrong end of someone who is trying to correct you but with the seemingly most evil intention. As they reprimanded you, you saw the anger in the eyes, heard the demeaning tone of their voice and the self-righteous pedestal they stood on. You walked away from that interaction with a new realization. You made a decision to stay away from them at all cost. Instead of a friend or family member who had your back, you placed them in a metaphorical phone booth you’d never call if you ever needed anything in life.

Now they thought fear and anger and belittling would get your attention, make you change, transform your direction in life. But in fact, it did the opposite. And, by the way, that is not at all how Jesus calls us to interact with each other.

James, the half-brother of Jesus, reminds us that the tongue is hard to control (James 3) and it’s so true. Paul calls us to a different way of living, the Jesus way in Ephesians 4:29-5:1. Paul reminds us in that text that kind of behavior is of the world and it brings sorrow to the Holy Spirit. That is an emotional response for the Spirit of God. I know God listens to our conversations and he’s hurt that his followers would speak to each other with anger, fear, loathing, and a belittling attitude.

Paul encourages the church (that’s us) to mature in our faith and be more like Jesus. He calls us to ignore cultural tendencies and cultural scripts in Ephesians 4:14 and says when we mature in Christ, we’ll be different. In verse 15 Paul says speak truth to one another in love. It’s so important we continue to speak the truth of how Jesus has called us to follow him but with the understanding first, I have the love of Jesus in my very soul…that my heart is full of love and grace and mercy for those with whom I’m interacting.

Paul shows us what this looks like as he writes the church in Corinth. This congregation had some issues and Paul is trying to get them to be the church that Jesus would want them to be. Although he is correcting them all through the letters, he uses phrases like “my beloved children” and “my brothers and sisters”. He’s reminding them of his love for them and his desire that they act and live like Jesus has transformed them.

So some questions you can ask yourself as you step into the lives of people you’re trying to influence for good. “Is my motive to help or to hurt?” Often we want to “pay back” someone for the way they spoke to us. We are called to help one another.

“Am I saying this because it will make me feel better or help them?” Sometimes, we just want to get something off our chest because we’ll feel better and say it in such a way we leave a train wreck in our wake.

Finally, “What does my tone communicate?” Body language and intonation make up as much as 93% of what we say. Our tone can build bridges or walls. If we truly want transformation, Jesus calls us to build bridges.

So be people who speak truth IN LOVE. Be Jesus. Be kind. Use every opportunity to change the world for the better. Blessings on your journey.

The Power of Words

Each of you has a story about someone who encouraged you, built you up, stuck with you, and empowered you. You remember them and are so grateful for their influence in your life. Equally, you remember someone who degraded you, ignored you, tore you down, and made you feel small. You wished those moments hadn’t happened.

Words have power. Words are important. How you use them is equally important. Take a look at the creation story in Genesis 1-2. God simply speaks things into existence. He says, “Let there be light. and there was light.” That’s how powerful words can be and the person using them.

Words can be a negative as well, even when they are not true. Like in Genesis 3 when Satan speak death into the life of Adam and Eve and all of creation. He questions God’s words and in so doing, the sinful, human condition comes into existence.

But then God sends “The Word” into the world in John 1. Jesus, the Word in the flesh, comes into the world. In Genesis, God speaks light into darkness. In John, God sends light into darkness. And Jesus’ words during his ministry on earth speak life and love and peace and joy and forgiveness to all his creation.

Now, we are made in the image of God which means we too can speak life and love to all those around us. Give is shot. Don’t say, “I’ve already tried it. It doesn’t work.” At least try for a month to live out the image of Jesus in your own life, building others up and not tearing down.

Start with the opening of your day. For 5 minutes each morning, speak the Word of God into your life. Write scripture on post it notes and put on your bathroom mirror to read each morning as you get ready. As you prepare for the day over that cup of coffee, open God’s Word and read the incredible things he’s said to you.

At the end of the day, take a word inventory. How did you speak to people today? If there was a negative, how could you have interacted differently? What attitudes did you experience today? Leaning into how God has called us to imitate his son can change your marriage, relationships with your kids, your work environment and yes, even your own spirit.

Words are powerful. Use them to bring life and love to those around you. Blessings on your journey.