[bl]W[/bl]e teach the young to speak words of kindness. The please and the thank you’s, the Mr. and Mrs. We correct their speech, help them choose appropriate words, and encourage politeness. What we’re doing is teaching them to talk and request kindly. But are we teaching them to really communicate? Better yet, do we know how to really communicate?
Faithful communication and conversation is offering words of truth and receiving the words of another.
Offering and receiving, the root of all hospitality. Even the tongue.
What is it that we offer with our tongue?
For Moses, it was a message of deliverance. His words may not have been eloquent, but they were full of truth and hope. His tongue was a tool in God’s plan for redemption.
So is mine. And yours. When our words form on our tongue we either welcome or refuse.
The welcome is inviting the ideas of another. Or inviting another into your ideas. We do this when we share our heart. When we write for others to read. We do this when we tell our testimony. When we communicate a thought or idea we hope to put into action.
And if our words don’t welcome, they refuse. The refusing is rejecting the voice of others, or denying them to engage our voice. We do this when we aren’t brave enough to apologize, or we won’t hear the apology of another. We do this when we dismiss another’s idea. Or we won’t open our heart for others to hear. And we especially do this when we criticize or use our tongue like a knife.
Offering and receiving with words. Jesus did this. When he spoke to the woman at the well and shared with her a truth that would set her free. He did this when he called twelve men to walk with him in his story and listen to his message. He did this when he shared parables to the interested crowds. He did this when he asked Peter if he loved him. He did this when he challenged the crowd wanting to stone the adulterous woman.
Jesus is the Word of God. And the words of Jesus speak of God. They tell all who will read and listen of the faithful story we already exist in.
So how do we offer and receive with our words?
The offering: To offer words is to give them to others as if they were a gift. Grace. Words that heal and encourage, affirm and empower. Words that speak truth and bless. These are not flattery or careless opinions, but thoughtful, intentional grace packaged in letters and sounds.
The receiving: To receive within a conversation is to hear – really hear the one speaking. It’s listening to the words of others. It’s patiently responding with grace. It’s allowing their words to change us, speak to our heart, encourage us, heal us. It’s recognizing the voice of God in the words shared by others.
The hospitable tongue will engage in faithful offering and receiving of words. Let me count some ways…
Call someone to hear how his difficult day was. Just listen. Be slow to respond. Wait for God to give you an encouraging word to offer.
When you disagree, affirm the reality and opinion of the other before offering a different one. Let the other know they are being heard.
When you’re responding to the sin of another, hear the heart before the behavior. Consider the root of the sin, not only the activity that’s exposing it. And speak truth, rather than disapproval.
Consider the motive and intention before expressing disappointment in another. It will bring grace to your response.
Be careful how your tongue infuses God language to validate your ideas and opinions.
Be genuine with the words I’ll pray for you or I’m praying for you.
Prayerfully consider opportunities to speak Truth before a crowd of witnesses.
If God has ordained the words, speak them with confidence and assurance no matter the consequence.
Receive criticism with grace by listening, not defending. Consider whether there is a truth for you.
Be honest. Always.
Lead your children in these ways by example.
And practice in these ways with the ones you live with.
Your words matter. Use them to glorify the Lord and bless those who hear them.