I have always felt that communication is something people take for granted. Some people seem to have the gift of communication while others are not so adept at expressing themselves. In my opinion, very few people get that upset nowadays about their lack of ability. Everyone just seems to muddle through doing the best they can, not getting concerned enough to improve their communication ability.
We have tackled some very hard issues in John Bevere’s book [Chapter 12]. No sexual immorality, living out-of-wedlock, homosexuality, porn in the Christian’s life and greed have been what I call “hard topics.” Bevere calls out American society with his standards based on God rather than societal “good.”
And then he cites a scripture from Colossians: “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive.”
Oh no, now he says our speech should be “full of grace.”
Here is a simple secret that I have learned from many years of studying communication. The people who are best at communicating their ideas have the ability to understand the point of view of “the other.”
Wow, that sounds too simple doesn’t it? In my opinion, all of our communication problems can be boiled down to this simple secret.
And what about “the other.” What does that mean?
When people engage in foolish talk, rude talk, or obscene talk, they often are not thinking about the listener. They are only thinking about self. When people resort to anger, threat or hateful expression, they are using bullying to get their way instead of communicating. They don’t care about the listener. Yes, even lying, slander, and critical speech are hurtful and the goal is selfish. The speaker is using underhanded methods to get what they want. Bevere does not mention this, but gossip should be added to the list.
Selfish people don’t want to put themselves in another person’s mind. They are only concerned about their position on issues. They don’t realize that the more one can understand other positions, the more an acceptable compromise can be reached.
Sometimes communication does not have to lead to compromise. If people can clearly express themselves in a polite [graceful] manner, it is amazing how many will understand and have no problem with their ideas.
Let’s go back to the “G” word I mentioned two paragraphs up, you know gossip. It is a problem in all types of organizations, and church is no exception. According to author Jerry Bridges**, gossip is the spreading of unfavorable information about someone else. Gossip is often based on rumor. Gossip is self-centered communication because it feeds our sinful ego, especially if the information is negative. The gossiper can feel self-righteous [bad enough] but the gossiper can feel powerful too because they are passing along information that others are not aware of. They are an information insider.
People who pass along any information should be very careful. When I tell anything about anyone, I always preface my comments with “I think I have this right, but I am not sure.” People who study listening report a fifty percent loss of accuracy right after messages are received. Everyone has probably played the grapevine game in school, where a simple message is whispered from the teacher to one student who then passes the message on to their neighboring student. By the time the message gets around the room, the results can be hilarious.
If the information that is passed is negative, given the poor retention percentage, all kinds of things will be created in the sharing.
Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Sadly, in our society today which has become radically polarized, there is so much need for effective communication. When people “go to the poles” with their views, that does not mean that their views are all bad or all good. Many positions in our society today have some good ideas, maybe along with some bad ideas. What is so sad is that we don’t take the time to search for the good ideas in other people. We are quick to label and we are quick to shut our ears.
Then comes foolish talk, rude talk, obscene talk along with anger, threat and hateful expression. And yes, one of the most damaging kinds of talk we can use is gossip.
David prayed in Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Just because all this hurtful communication is acceptable to society today, does not mean it is acceptable. John Bevere is certainly trying to make a strong point about communication.
Hurtful communication is not acceptable to God. It truly is sin.
*I usually try to post every two days but with Chapter 12, I have taken extra time because the issues take so much thought. I have had several third day posts and that is why…his ideas are tough to write about.
**Bridges has written a book entitled “Respectable Sins”.