The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

COMMUNICATION: We all need a word-wash

Ernie (not the muppet) was my friend in my first year of college. He was a solid, good guy—the kind of person you want as a friend. He was one of those people who had no guile about him but spoke his mind in trust and openness, often making himself vulnerable for a good-natured jab or maybe a humorous quip by those who were near. Unfortunately, I played that role with Ernie. In what I thought was “just joking,” I often turned his words into a laugh for others who were present. One day, Ernie had enough. He told me—in the middle of our little group—that he was sick and tired of my constant ridicule of him, that he was deeply hurt, and that our friendship was ended. Then he walked away. . .and out of my life.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

It seems that most people have trouble with words. There are a few exceptions, but for most of us, words trip us up. For each of us this happens in different ways. Sometimes we just don’t talk; we’re the “strong silent type,” or at least the silent type. Sometimes we use our deep, naturally loud voices to exert our authority and indicate that we are in control. Sometimes we save our words until we are angry enough and then spew them on those around us. Sometimes we whine and wheedle to get something we want. Too often we use words as weapons on the ones closest to us.

And then, sometimes we get it right and our words bring health and healing and life.

The Bible has a lot to say about words and the mouth and the power of the tongue. When I use the Bible like a mirror and evaluate my words, I simply fall short.
The following verses from Ephesians 5:25-27 challenge me as a husband and father:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church. . .

My words can wash my wife, and family as well, making them radiant! Am I using my words with that in mind? That very possibility intrigues and challenges me. Can I use my words to wash and cleanse and shine and polish the people I love? If that is true, then I have some work to do. And I have a feeling that maybe you do, too.
Let’s agree with the Lord that we will use our words to wash and cleanse, to build, to plant, to encourage, to communicate value, to praise honest effort.
After all, the people in our lives are created for a glorious eternity. C.S. Lewis says, “There are no ordinary people. . .But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.” All day long we are helping one another become one of these two things—a horror or a splendor.
Our greatest tools are our words. They can be knives or they can be soothing balm. They contain the power of life or death, health or hurt, joy or pain.

Create radiance in others. Speak life.