Today’s encouragement comes all the way from Australia! Thank you to Belinda from Live Life With Your Kids.
Being on a different page with someone you love brings all sorts of emotions: disappointment, frustration, hurt, separation. We desperately want people to love us, to accept us, and agree with us. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes our worlds collide, and it isn’t pretty. There is carnage – long term damage to the relationship. And that is sad.
The Bible speaks about how our words affect our relationships.
The instruments of both life and death are within the power of the tongue.
Many, many years ago we were expecting a visit from family. Every time this family visited we would have conflict. Every time. It would always start well, and then there would be an issue and suddenly the visit would explode. Sometime before this particular visit I was pondering and being anxious because it is always exhausting to have conflict in the home and I heard God say to my heart – If you ask me, I’ll tell you what the issue is going to be, and you can have soft answers.
So I asked God, and his answer was: Homeschooling. Now, we had been homeschooling for a few years and I knew these people didn’t necessarily agree but it hadn’t been a dividing issue. Over the next month or so I prayed for soft words – gentle, peace giving, loving words to defend our choice to homeschool. The visit came and it wasn’t until the last few days when the kids where showing them their school binders that I realised we had shared our life – which included homeschooling – and there had been no conflict, I had used gentle words without me even knowing it. Looking back though, I could see where God had created a gentle spirit within me and my words had been a reflection of that.
This is the key –
My prayers for gentle answers, soft words prepared my heart. It didn’t change their attitude – it changed mine.
The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.
When we want to fix a conflict, or avoid one, we become focused on what the other person is feeling. This may be a compassionate response; we want to mend our relationship, and to that end we try and understand the other person. But we also need to understand ourselves.
It is our angry words that will damage a relationship. The words that come out of our mouth.
It reminds me of the words that I often spoke to my kids as they faced relational stress or conflict:
You cannot change their actions, you can only change your reactions.
I want my reactions to whatever people throw at me to be soft, gentle answers.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Colossians 4:6 ESV
A quick Bible study on the impact of our words gives us a few more verses to consider.
Soft words will:
- Turn away anger: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
- Be persuasive: Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. Proverbs 25:15
- Lead to forgiveness: If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post, calmness can lay great offenses to rest. Ecclesiastes 10:4
- Brings healing: The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18
- Keep you from sin: Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble Proverbs 21:23
I cannot do this on my own. On my own I can be depended on to be defensive, to prove a point, to want to be accepted or acknowledged. On my own I will stir up wrath – both in myself and in others!
God says, whenever we lack wisdom, if we ask, he will give it to us (James 1:5). When it comes to responding to relational situations, we need wisdom: soft answers, gentle words, and sometimes I need to remain quiet. Unfortunately, I haven’t approached every sticky relationship situation with this attitude; though I am sure that God would remain faithful.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Won’t you pray with me? Lord, give me gracious words – gentle words – wise words – that I may walk in harmony with the people in my life.
Belinda is married to Peter, lives in Australia and has 4 “pretty much grown up” kids. They’ve homeschooled right the way through so that has very much shaped their family life. If you were to talk to Belinda and Pete, you would find that their passion is for families (both the natural family and the family of God). Our deepest desire is for these two identities to be functioning as God has intended – with peace, harmony, and impact on the world around them. Belinda blogs at Live Life With Your Kids where she shares the things that work and the things that have to be tweaked as they live life together as a family. Her heart is to encourage you in the discipleship of your family – whether you are homeschooling or not.
Shared at: Grace & Truth,