Read James 3:1-12
What factors contribute to experiencing unity in conversation? Good word choices are key! Sensitive intonation is essential! Engaging non-verbals are a must! A compassionate heart attitude is required! A learning disposition is crucial!
James 3 focuses especially on the first of those factors. While each of us may have areas with which he/she struggles, there is one challenge that all of us share. Every one of us has a problem with the tongue. And even though our tongues are relatively small, the problems they create can be huge! The tongue’s power is compared here to a small bit that controls a horse. It is like a small rudder that steers a ship. It is similar to a small flame that can set an entire forest ablaze.
Words are powerful with great potential to heal and bless. But that old adage many of us learned as kids is just not true: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” The reality is that the words we share and the way we share them can inflict injury and devastation.
The problem is not completely eliminated through a relationship with Jesus. In fact, it is we as believers that may be most aware of the problem. Although it seems inconsistent, we bless God with our words and intonation. Meanwhile, we respond to those made in His image with words and intonation that reflect impatience, insensitivity, and perhaps even profanity.
So, what is the answer to our contribution to this kind of communication problem? It isn’t as simple as just trying harder. Even though we discipline our pets to obey us, we cannot just exercise greater personal discipline and expect perfection in our communication. Instead, we must recognize that this is more of a heart problem than a tongue problem. It is out of the overflow of the heart that we speak. If we, then, are to experience united conversation, we must first of all address the things that we allow into our hearts (Phil. 4:8).
Secondly, we must recognize that this heart problem has a spiritual solution. When we read of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, we see characteristics that all of us yearn to reflect in our communication. Each of us want our side of any conversation to be more and more influenced by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. For Christ-followers, the indwelling Spirit of God makes those communication markers possible. Lean more into Him.