Do you want to know the 5 keys to better communication? Who doesn’t?
This is the first post in a two-part series on better communication. Find the second post here.
God’s Word guides us in how to communicate in order to keep unity in our relationships. There is no clearer description than in the book of Ephesians. Chapters one through three of Ephesians lays the foundation as it assures us of our vertical relationship with God and who we are in Christ.
Ephesians 4:1 is a key transition:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Ephesians 4:1 (ESV)
Because of who we are in Christ and because of our union with Him, the apostle Paul told us to walk worthy of that calling and relationship. Our attitude toward our horizontal “family” relationships is expressed in Ephesians 4:2: “all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” Then, in Ephesians 4:3, you read the admonition to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Following Paul’s plea to “walk in unity in relationships,” he gave us four keys for biblical communication. When we apply these four keys of communication, we develop unity. When we break one or more of them, tension and disunity follow.
Communication Key #1: Be Honest
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25 (ESV)
Blurt out anything in the name of truth? No!
This command is tempered by Ephesians 4:15, speaking the truth in love. So I must be honest in all my human relationships motivated by love, asking myself if I am saying what I say because I love the person and want what is best for him. Venting to make myself feel better in the name of harsh truth is extremely selfish. Some people pride themselves in “speaking their minds” and “truth that hurts.” God is truth, but His truth frees us! So should ours!
There may be times I have to confront another’s sin, and that is always difficult. My responsibility is to be honest and motivated by love for the individual. God is responsible to produce the results.
In other words, I can’t neglect my responsibility for honesty just because I believe the person may not respond as I hope he will. His response is between him and God, and I must leave that in God’s hands. My responsibility is to speak the truth in love.
Another way I may fail to be honest is by denying that I even have a problem. What’s wrong? “Nothing! Leave me alone!” “Me . . . a problem? Of course not!” Denial equals dishonesty.
Communication Key #2: Keep Current
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV)
When I am angry, I must not sin by having a sinful response to that anger. Specifically, I should not hold anger in and stuff it. The sun must not go down on my unresolved anger.
To do so gives the devil a foothold, an inroad into my life. Unresolved anger opens the door to all kinds of temptations and sin. Bad news!
Check out James 4:1–12 for one example of a sinful response to anger. It destroys people when anger gives way to bitterness (see Hebrews 12:15) and bitterness gives way to hatred and vengeance (Romans 12:19-21). Today’s problems are enough to deal with today (Matthew 6:34), so I shouldn’t carry today’s problems over into tomorrow lest I wake up angry tomorrow still dealing with today’s stuff.
Communication Key #3: Attack Problems, Not People
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Ephesians 4:29–30 (ESV)
Labeling others with words like “stupid” or “slob” or saying things like “I wish I didn’t have to be around you” or even things like “you always” or “you never” are attacks on the person or their character (as well as lies!). This does nothing to help solve the problems. Rather, attacking people makes more problems, as those with whom God has called us to walk in unity become our “enemies” that we attack.
Any two believers, regardless of the human relationship (spouse, parent/child, sibling, employer/employee, neighbor, friend, brother in Christ, or even enemy) are on the same team—God’s! We are teammates, and must treat each other as such, teaming up to attack any problem that would divide us and destroy unity. I must be committed to my teammates and see them as valuable to God—just as much as I am.
God loves all His children, none more that the others. So I should never attack any other creation of God’s, either by corrupt (rotten) words or by lack of words. Silence is often interpreted as saying, “You aren’t worth the energy it takes to communicate to resolution.” To say even one corrupt word grieves the Holy Spirit! He allows for none!
Instead, we must work toward solutions to anything that divides us—stuff that makes us angry, like what one or the other said or did.
I don’t know what to do to fix the problem if I’m called a “slob”, but I do know what to do to fix “you did not clean your room today.” I can clean my room and restore the unity. I can’t fix “stupid” but I can attack the problem of “leaving the lights on all night.” When I define the word or deed that made me angry, I can tell you what I want you to fix, and then you can respond and fix it.
Unity happens when we as teammates attack problems. Disunity happens when we attack each other, and God is grieved.
Continued in Part 2.
Did You Know?
Most people need help with communication skills. Are you in a struggling marriage and need hope? What about communication with your teens? Do they need help making wise choices for everyday living? Biblical Counseling Center has experienced, certified biblical counselors who’ll not only pray with you but also develop a personalized plan for your situation. Contact us.