Encouragement, admonishment/confrontation, forgiveness, affirmation, praise, and thanksgiving
These are all graces that smooth out relationships and help us get through the inevitable tough spots. Some people are so good at this. You get around them and when you are done talking with them, you feel uplifted somehow. They may not talk about you but even their talk about themselves is so gospel-gracious that you sense both their humility and their genuine interest in you. This can be faked, but when it is genuine, somehow you know it.
Please also note that admonishment and confrontation is on here. Speaking the truth in love means sometimes we must talk about conflict or sin or failure. This means confronting lies and false doctrine in the church. Jesus describes in Matthew 18 this kind of loving confrontation. These are not as pleasant but they can be most helpful to others. So we aren’t talking about superficial happy talk that sounds like a cocktail party but is devoid of truth. Truth has teeth to it and we shouldn’t resent brothers and sisters who confront us in love to help us.
We would all be so blessed if we consciously and intentionally sought to bless others with our words. I have personally challenged myself in the area of affirmation. When I see gifting or spiritual growth, I need to say it; affirm it. I don’t do it nearly enough. I want to improve. How about you? Do any of these stir your heart to action?
My old pastor would often use this as an illustration of what it should be like to be in a healthy church. Apparently they have done studies about the honking of geese. You know when geese are flying around because they make an awful racket. There is so much honking. Did you know studies suggest they are actually encouraging each other with their honking? You are a good flyer! That’s an amazing formation! You can make it! Honk! Honk!
What kind of noise is heard around your church? Have you honked at anyone lately? Affirmed them? Encouraged them? Admonished them with grace somehow?
The power of life and death is in the tongue. When that tongue flows from a heart of gospel truth, motivated by God’s love, what a powerful blessing it can be. Gossip isn’t honking. Mr. Goose told me that Mrs. Goose once….Lying isn’t honking. Bragging isn’t honking. Gospel truth in the heart means I speak the truth with my mouth for the good and joy of everyone in the community of believers.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2014 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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