Getting down to the nitty gritty….

12 Oct

One of the things I have always appreciated about my Dad is that he doesn’t like leaving biblical principles in the realm of theory, but works hard instead at illustrating what those principles look like when put into practice.

Take the issue of wholesome versus unwholesome talk.

We all know that we need to turn away from ungodly speech, but what does this ungodly speech look like and how can we speak in ways that are more helpful? Here are some possible real life suggestions he gives:

Unwholesome: Stop ordering me around. You are so bossy. Who do you think you are anyway?

Wholesome: When you would like me to do something, I would appreciate it if you would ask me to do it rather than demanding I do it.

Unwholesome: Don’t you talk to me like that. If you ever do, I guarantee I will make sure you never do it again.

Wholesome: The tone of voice you are talking to me in is tempting me to become frightened or angry or respond in a sinful way.

Unwholesome: You better listen to me or you will be sorry.

Wholesome: Right now I am getting the impression you aren’t that interested in what I am saying. Is that true? Would there be a better time for me to talk to you about this?

Unwholesome: It is obvious you are bitter. Why can’t you see it? You need to look me right in the eyes and ask my forgiveness because I know that you are angry even if you don’t.

Wholesome: I have been getting the sense that you are really disappointed with me about some things. Am I right? What exactly is it that I have been doing that has been making it difficult for you? Is it possible that there’s some anger in your heart towards me right now?

Unwholesome: I will tell you one thing. If you won’t do it, I will find someone who will.

Wholesome: Please help me understand why you don’t want to do what I have asked you to do.

Unwholesome: That’s a stupid idea. What you are suggesting is ridiculous. Why would you ever think it would work?

Wholesome: Let me make sure I understand what you are saying and why you think that way.

Unwholesome: You are doing it all wrong! The way you are doing it doesn’t make sense. Let me tell you a better way to do it!

Wholesome: I know you like the way you are doing it and its ok with me if you want to do it that way. Would you mind though if suggest another way of doing it that might save a little energy?

Unwholesome: You are so funny when you get mad. I really get a kick out of the way you get red in the face and the way you glare at me when you get mad. It’s so funny to see you acting in the childish ways you do. Your pouting and sulking reminds me of what some of our children used to do when they didn’t get their way, back when they were babies.

Wholesome: You seem upset. Are you? What is it that I have done or said that displeases you? What could I have done differently that would have been less problematic for you?

I am sure that you have more and perhaps you have ways that things could be said that would be even more helpful, but the point here is that it’s not really enough to know that we need to put off ungodly speech and put on godly speech if we are not willing to look very carefully at what we are actually saying and see whether it is promoting peace or tearing people down. The book of Proverbs is clear. The wise person not only says the right thing, he works hard at making his speech persuasive. In other words, he doesn’t just say things. He thinks about how to make knowledge acceptable. How about you?


3 Responses to “Getting down to the nitty gritty….”

  1. Tommie October 12, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Spurgeon once said something along the lines that if you do not fill yourself with good knowledge (studying the word ext.) you will not be able to share anything of real value.
    If you filled up to the brim with bad stuff you will spill bad stuff if you filled with good you will spill over with good things.
    I agree you must think before you share something but, normally that just takes too long and the moment passes.
    Conversations is more like an automatic car you don’t shift the gears.
    Thinking before you talk will undoubtedly help you from saying wrong things but, is your heart changed?
    I suggest working on the “input” and “output” simultaneously.
    Guarding the tongue before you comment, will make you say less, which in my case is a good thing.

    • joshnmarda October 12, 2011 at 10:09 am #

      True Tommie.

      Proverbs makes it clear that the wise man not only says the right things but actually thinks about how to say them. For example, Proverbs 18:21 says that “sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” In other words, there is a way of saying things that makes the truth easier for people to accept. Proverbs 15:2 tells us that the tongue of the wise “makes knowledge acceptable.” Here we see that there is knowledge and that it is possible through the way you speak to make knowledge acceptable or obviously the opposite is true, you can make knowledge much more difficult to accept through the way you speak.

      I would think that wise people will then not only think about the knowledge they are sharing but also be concerned about sharing that knowledge in a way that adds persuasiveness.

      Unfortunately I have found that sometimes people have unknowingly picked up ungracious habits and ways of speaking that do the exact opposite and that it helps for them to carefully think through how to better express the truths they are intending to communicate.

      • Tommie October 13, 2011 at 4:20 am #

        I’m guilty.

        Got any advice or maybe point me in a direction where I can get some info.

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