Saying What Needs To Be Said With Honour
Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. What comes out depends on the treasure – what’s stored up – good or not so good.
When we find ourselves saying things with a sting, we can learn to control what we say and become more skilled at it – not a bad idea.
But we can also take a look at where the sting is coming from.
We can take a look at how our culture of speaking has been formed. For most of us, it has been formed very early in life. Fathers, mothers, father-figures or mother-figures (or a combination) can shape how we express things.
There is power in the words we speak. The fact that some things can get done by speaking with an intimidating or demeaning energy can make it seem justifiable. If our model is governing through this method, we can have the mindset that it’s just the right way to get things done. But that can be us “being wise in our own eyes”.
Many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were known for coercing conformity through fear and penalties. You might know some people today like this. But when Jesus came along, they ‘wondered at the words of grace that proceeded out of His mouth’ (Luke 4:22). And people’s behavior began to change because their hearts began to change. Jesus said that believers would speak in new tongues. The context talks about what was released on the day of Pentecost (and through the ages now); at the same time, the grace of Holy Spirit transforms the way we speak in general. This is why, when we experience the work of Holy Spirit, our hearts can be so changed that our family asks, "what has happened to you? You are speaking so differently!" We have seen this in revival over the years.
When Jesus was instructing His team, He was thinking with a big heart. He talked about how Peter would strengthen his brothers. He was speaking things they would understand later. He was commissioning them even when they were going to be less than perfect, and even though it could affect the reputation of His movement. Jesus led without having issues due to an unhealed heart - His heart was perfect. Sometimes He would speak challenging things and sometimes bring correction, but love was always at the heart of His communication. It’s good for us to look a bit deeper into the heart when we communicate. What is our motive?
If we look at people through the eyes of Jesus, we can see not just what people see on the outside, but also the glory on the inside. When you start to practice, you will have your senses exercised in this (Heb. 5:14). You can look at the student most unlikely to succeed or the associate that is least likely to have something to contribute, and you can see great potential. You might see that a student could be a future inventor, or the one in the office that doesn’t seem to be promotable, yet they come up with an idea that is a game-changer for the firm. The prophet Samuel made this mistake until the Lord adjusted the way he looked: “The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, … for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." So when we are speaking to people we need to see them as they really are in God’s eyes – and speak to them accordingly. God knows the secrets of the heart (1 Cor. 14:25): this is not only true about our shortcomings; He does see it all, but he sees the hidden glory in earthen vessels. When a character-groomer speaks to a prince that is young and maybe not mature yet, they speak according to who they are.
Finally, creativity is invaluable in speaking words of grace, validation and honour, whilst challenging, bringing guidance or bringing correction. Holy Spirit is the invaluable Partner in this – one of His gifts is the ‘word of wisdom’ and this skill can be greatly appreciated in speaking to those in positions of influence. We are called to speak with grace and honour. We are also appointed to speak with boldness. Identity has a lot to do with how we speak. If we feel we don’t have anything that has value or that others need to hear, we can speak very quickly or not clearly. Paul apologized for the way he spoke to the high priest in Jersualem: “… I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ” Acts 23:5 (NASB), but then went on to speak a word of wisdom that changed the course and outcome of the meeting (see Acts 23:6). We’ve heard that we need to “speak the truth in love” and bring correction with “words of grace, seasoned with salt”: this involves a heart filled up with the love of God and partnering with the inspiration and creativity of Holy Spirit. Then we can watch Holy Spirit work in hearts and see transformation – both in our close relationships, as well as the people around us – including people of influence. May this be a vehicle to extend His grace to see heaven come to our communities and nations!