If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. – 1 Corinthians 13:1
In other words, what we say vs. what we mean (feel free to correct me if I am wrong);
We say “well, I will sure pray for you”, when often times we mean, I don’t have time to really talk to you right now, or feel awkward talking about this, so let me use this to end our conversation. Sure people talk about stuff we don’t always want to talk about, but what about when we need to open up about something uncomfortable? That’s when we know the relationship is real, when we can talk about the junk in our lives. When we can be vulnerable and allow someone else to be vulnerable with us. When we drop the busyness of life and turn our attention to someone in need, we are living out the concept of “brotherhood”.
“I’m saying this out of Christian love”, when we really mean to say something that probably sounds judgmental (and usually is), but if I say this first, then you can’t really argue with it. Yes, there are times when we need to rebuke or confront, but if we are really speaking the truth” IN” love, we don’t have to use a preamble to cover our words.
“Can I be completely honest with you?”, ok I don’t even know why we say this. Are we telling the other person that frankly I lie to you a lot, so get ready for something hurtful? Integrity means that we are honest people. Even if we lie, we are to confess that lie, thereby showing that we are people of integrity. Walking in the Light, means speaking the truth, not differentiating what we say as being “completely honest”.
“I don’t know why this happened to you, but don’t worry, God has a plan”, well of course He has a plan. Of course Jesus tells us that we can’t add a day to our lives by worrying, but we often say this because we don’t know what that plan is (wait did I really just say that I don’t always know what God’s plan is?….duh!). We often say this because we don’t want to just “feel” with our friend. Secular psychologists say this is empathy. The Bible calls it, suffering when another part of the body suffers (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
“All you can do is pray for them.”, when we mean, hey give up working with another person. We have all had family members or friends that don’t act in a godly manner. News flash, we don’t always do that either! This doesn’t mean we become enablers, but it also doesn’t mean that we turn our backs. Grace…look it up.
There are others to be sure, but we all see the pattern here. The things we say mean something. The way we live says more. Do we use our “spiritual” words to hide our Spiritual Truth? Many different people have been credited with this quote; “Preach always, and when necessary use words.” I am not sure who originally said those specific words, but I promise you that Jesus is the One, who gave us that instruction. Read the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11). Nowhere in that beautiful sermon does Jesus say “always talk about mercy” or “make sure you talk about being poor in spirit”. No, clearly He is talking about living that way.
When talking to a friend, when chatting with another believer, and most importantly when having a conversation with a non-believer, let’s think about what is being heard, not what we are saying. Most people may not speak in Christian(ese), but most people are able to translate it.