Getting to the Heart of Harmful Speech

13 Feb

Given the power of communication, it would be foolish not to evaluate the way you speak to others. For me, it helps to simplify the evaluation process by looking at what is motivating my speech. There are at least three heart attitudes that will always produce corrupting talk.

1. Is my speech motivated by pride?

Am I using this conversation as a means to pursue my own glory?

Am I using my speech as a tool to protect my appearance in the eyes of others?

Does the way I am talking flow out of a distorted sense of self?

Specifically am I talking as if I were God? Like I knew all? Or as if I were perfectly holy?

2. Is my speech motivated by selfishness?

Am I speaking as if I were not concerned about the good of others?

Am I using this conversation as a means of getting others to give me what I want?

Am I talking to justify myself in the eyes of God or others?

Am I attempting to center others attention on myself?

3. Is my speech motivated by unbelief?

Do my words flow out of doubts about the character of God?

For example, am I doubting God’s power or control? That’s what we are doing every time we worry or complain.

Or I am doubting God’s grace? Am I speaking as if I hadn’t received every spiritual blessing, as if God’s own Son hadn’t died for me, as if I weren’t going to spend eternity having God pour out His grace on me?

Am I distorting or denying God’s Word in this conversation?

Do my words match up with the truth of God’s Word?

Am I attempting to do for myself through this conversation what I should be talking to God about instead?

The reason I bring all that up is because what needs to happen if we are going to put off corrupting speech is not simply that we start carrying around a check list with specific examples of bad speech on it, but that God through His grace, changes us at the heart level, that we put off what is producing harmful speech by applying the gospel to the way we talk.

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