Hard words don’t have to be harsh words. Sometimes we need to say difficult things, even critical things, but those truths don’t have to be delivered with a bite.
Word choice: When you’re an expert
Sometimes you know more than the person you’re with. When an expert shares information in a superior way, pride is exposed. Today it’s easier (more dangerous?) than ever to use social media as a platform for blurting out opinions and information. Some women have gradually developed an expert attitude of sharing the “right” way to do anything from nursing a baby to studying the Bible to choosing ingredients for dinner.
Some are legitimate experts; others are longing to be recognized as “right.” Word choice reveals the intent. Those who are truly motivated by a Spirit-led desire take time to choose their words carefully, to craft their tone, and to consider how their words will make others feel.
Instant access on social media creates a means for putting information out there to hundreds or thousands, without much thought. Bullies abound in this day of social sharing, and few people want to go toe to toe online and publicly to gently raise a flag of concern. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” (Proverbs 15:1). Hard words don’t have to be harsh. An expert has the potential to become a bully online and face to face.
Word choice: When you’re convicted
Sometimes convictions prompt us to speak up. Even Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees, calling them a brood of vipers, and He turned over shop tables at the Temple. But He clearly set a pattern of speaking the truth in love, letting His light shine in such a way that people would see His good works and glorify His Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Even the expression of a conviction should turn people to God’s truth.
When convictions are shared with characteristic worldly words (harsh, attacking), attention turns back to the speaker. Energy and recognition point to the person, often stirring up a following for or against the individual. Even if the conviction began with a spiritual truth, Jesus often gets lost in the argument.
Light exposes darkness. “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,” (Ephesians 5:13). Speaking with darkness only adds to the darkness.
Earlier this week, I shared about the movie Son of God. I’m aware of inaccuracies and inconsistencies. I’m not surprised the producers are imperfect and flawed or that some famous people have tried to attach themselves to the movie’s spiritual impact or worldly success. God has given us His truth in His word so we can compare the telling of His story with the actual unfolding of His plans.
Word choice: My goal in sharing
Son of God is the first of four spiritually driven movies this spring. It will be followed by God’s Not Dead (March 21), Noah (March 28), and Heaven is for Real (April 16). I shared a review of God’s Not Dead in last month’s CHP newsletter. I’ll be sharing about the others. My goal is to share truth in a gentle way that honors God, builds you up, and speaks life. God can use these movies, but so can our Enemy. Wherever you land on the value of each one, know that hard words do not have to be harsh.
You might be a verbal bully if:
- You do most of the talking
- You raise your voice
- You feel tension or see others feel tension
- You are met with silence
- You don’t ask questions & listen
- You walk away without knowing what the other person thinks
- You feel powerful about being right
- You only hear people agreeing with you
- You didn’t think about what Jesus would say
- You spoke without pausing to think or pray
Lord, help us to speak in such a way that we shine Your light. Teach us how to have loving words, instead of harsh, arrogant, or defensive words. Would you lead us to speak life?