July 4 – United – Matthew 5 and James 5

Read Matthew 5:33-37 and James 5:12

“To be clear is to be kind. To be unclear is to be unkind”.

I first heard this phrase while studying interpersonal communication as a junior in college and was fascinated by the concept from a personal and professional stand point.

It was written by an author by the name of Brene Brown. She is a licensed social worker and professor who has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. One of my favorite subjects she has spoken on is how society shapes our communication and how communication shapes our relationships. Jesus was pretty specific, too, when it came to our speech. Our speech can impact how others see us. A seven-year study that Brown did revealed that most people avoid clarity because we tell ourselves we’re being kind when what we are actually doing is being unkind and unfair.

When we look around our world today, we see a lot of hate, fear, and intimidation. We also see a lot of love, peace and an effort to unite. No matter which aisle you are on – if you are slurring hate or proclaiming peace – your words have an effect. Clarity can only be achieved with the appropriate actions that follow.

The principle that Matthew and James both list is that we must follow with action the words that we speak. We must choose not to sway back and forth between perspectives but stand firm in the truths that we know. Jesus’ character was one of follow through. He was clear about who we were called to be. We must let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no” and not allow the society to transform our speech to the point where it affects our relationships. Once it does, we lose.

Have you ever been in a relationship where clarity was lacking? I am a high communicator and, if I don’t receive specific expectations, then I feel lost. I remember once, when managing an office, my employer asked something of me. Instead of clearly stating his expectations, I assumed what he meant and ended up failing a project but also feeling frustrated in that relationship. He and I both used that as a breakthrough moment and learned how to communicate better.

Whether it is managing someone or being in a relationship, clarity brings unity. Clarity diffuses confusion and sometimes frustration. There, however, are consequences in being too clear and this is something we are seeing on a daily basis in the news. People are spatting off what they think or believe without understanding that the follow through which comes from it is detrimental and not what the Lord has called of us to be. We shouldn’t hold those who are not believers to the standards of Jesus, but let’s look at how intentional we can be with our “yes” and our “no”. How can you be more clear with the words that you use?

Every word, verse, parable, song and prophecy in the Word is intentional and clear. This is our example. If Jesus is our example and He was a man of clarity, kindness and follow through, how much more would we win for the kingdom by allowing that example to bleed through our speech?

Kelly Lawson

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