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Eowyn's Heart

The name of this blog is based on the character Eowyn from Lord of the Rings because I strongly identify with her on many levels. The purpose of this blog is to proclaim the glory of my Lord and King through His work in conforming me into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus. In all things, I trust you will see His hand at work.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Eph 4:25-30; Relationships & Communication

I have always believed that communication is essential to strong relationships. If people don't talk to one another the relationship simply can't go anywhere. It gets stale and dies on the vine very quickly. What I did not know is that there is actually a Biblical basis for maintaining communication in a relationship. What follows are some excerpts from my notes on a sermon about this subject taken from Ephesians 4:25-30.

First of all, to place the passage in context (vital to any good exposition of the Word), we must remind ourselves that chapters 1-3 are discussing doctrinal issues and chapters 4-6 are discussing application of these doctrines into our everyday lives. Chapter 4:17-19 seek to remind us of our pre-saved condition, verses 20 & 21 review the change wrought in salvation and verses 22-24 remind us that the change is permanent and completed (the verb tense for "put off" and "put on" indicates the action has already taken place - it's a done deal). Verse 25 starts out with the tell-tale "Therefore" indicating that the instructions which follow are based on the preceding evidence of their necessity.

In verses 25-30 we find Three Key Principles for Biblical Communication

Principle #1: The need for truth to be observed in all our communication.
v. 25 "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor"
Dishonest communication we must avoid includes:
Deceit - what you say is true, but there's more truth unsaid so that the whole is hidden or twisted
Sweeping Generalizations - "always" and "never" are very dangerous words.
Embellishments - don't make it out to be more than it really is
Minimizing - don't make it out to be less than it really is
Evasion - talking around the truth but never really getting to the heart of it
Innuendo - disguising the truth
Verbal / Non-verbal Conflict - When our words and our demeanor don't mesh
Blame Shifting - this one's been around since the very first sin
Unkept Promises - it's the same thing as lying when you say you're going to do something and then you don't follow through

Our motivation for keeping our communication honest is in our relationship to one another (see also verses 15-16).

I don't know about y'all, but I got my toes stepped on a bit in that list of dishonest communication. We grow up practicing this stuff in the flesh and it just comes so naturally that we don't even recognize it for the sin that it is.

Principle #2: The need to communicate regularly
v. 26 "Do not let the sun go down on your wrath"

Issues cannot be resolved without communication. It's simple, it's logical, it's Biblical. To allow issues to remain unresolved weakens the Body of Christ and is sinful. Anger is also one of the primary causes of a lack of communication. Anger does not have to be expressed in rantings and ravings to be sinful - nor is all anger sinful - there is a place for righteous anger.

Anger is sinful when it is selfishly motivated. Anger is sinful when, regardless of it's motivation, it is sinfully handled. Two ways in which anger is commonly mishandled include blowing up and clamming up. Both are self-serving and do not seek to bring resolution to the issue at hand.

How can we keep anger from becoming sinful? (1) recognize that sinful anger exists and we are susceptible to it; (2) pray about the situation; (3) question your motives; (4) seek resolution to the conflict as quickly as possible.

God expects us to speak regularly with one another to resolve issues.

Principle #3: The need to speak purposefully
v. 29 "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers."

I never realized, until just now, that I have always mis-read that verse. I read the middle part wrong as "what is good and necessary for edification" It really puts a different twist on it. We are not commanded to speak because it is necessary for edification but because edification is necessary. Now there's something to meditate on a bit!

How do we accomplish speach which results in the edification that is necessary? Four key aspects to evaluate:

1. Consider WHAT is said - the words being used must be carefully thought out. "Let no unwholesome word . . . " This isn't just foul language here (though that is obviously included) - the greek for "unwholesome" means "putrid" "decayed" or "rotting". Words are meant to help, not harm. Ref also Col 3:8 and Prov. 15:1
I see this as strongly related to Philippians 2:3 & 4. We often have a tendency to feel we simply "must" get something "off my chest". This is pure selfish motivation - my "need" to speak my mind regardless of the impact it has on the other individual. Philippians (and a ton of other places in Scripture) clearly tell us we are to consider others more important than ourselves. If we've got issues we feel we simply must get off our chest that are not issues of sin in the other person's life, then we have a sin problem in the form of an unwillingness to forgive and some sense that we are more important than the other person. period.

2. Consider HOW to say it - Sarcasm and Condescension are the big offenders here. Eph. 4:15 "speak the truth in love". Some people get so caught up in the first part of that verse they totally miss the 2nd part and go about spouting the truth in an aggressive, condscending, rude manner. This is not conducive to good communication. See also Proverbs 16:21

3. Consider HOW MUCH to say. We must say enough to get to the issue and deal with it, but we must be careful not to overdo it either. See also Prov. 10:19

4. Consider WHEN to say it. Ref. Prov. 15:23 and 25:11. Timing is everything. Consider well the context of the conversation you are about to embark on and assess the timeliness of it - especially if it is a sensitive matter.

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