How You Speak Truth Matters

Published on 3 November 2023 at 12:08

"The tongue can be death or life; for those who love to talk will reap the consequences." -Matthew 5:5


What an example of free will. We can have every good word written on our hearts, but in the most careless moment, we are capable of cutting flesh like a knife with our choice of words.


I teach 6th grade Language Arts, and recently we focused on an author's choice of words and how it helps them form a tone in their writing. Their goal is to evoke an emotion in us so that we may better understand the story or information. And isn't that what we do in any conversation? We want the other to understand us completely, and so that comes from not just our words, but the tone we use. We have to remember that our first goal should be to fight for a relationship with another child of God. Not for the sake of "doing right" or "the Golden Rule", but for the sake of where they spend eternity and us helping show them the God who wants them there. For that reason, how we say what we say matters. When we speak with selfish intent, even if your words are rooted in truth, there will be only fruit of strife and friction. The other person knows you want to assert yourself over them, when we should strive for them to understand how much we care about their soul. 


Consider Jesus's interactions with those who opposed him, the Pharisees for example. No matter how much he knew God's way was right, or how frustrated or heartbroken he was with their behavior, he always spoke with a tone of love and, what I think is more important, compassion. Of course, he corrected and convicted when it was necessary, but he did so in a way that they might understand that he cared about where they would spend eternity, and he cared about them experiencing God's love. Pause for a second with me, and ask yourself this question:

Do I care enough about where strangers, and even my enemies, are going to spend eternity?


It wasn't until I really began to reflect on this question that I better understood how important the tone that I use is. Whether in an argument with a loved one, or sharing the gospel with a combative stranger, fight for the relationship by showing meekness. Biblical meekness means having a certain ability or power, but practicing self-denial in the form of self-control to ensure others are put before you, and ultimately God's good before your own. How foreign would it look to fight for relationship while another is fighting to be right? Our tongue can be our greatest weapon for personal power, or our greatest asset for reflecting Jesus. That Holy Spirit fruit that comes from using our tongue wisely isn't because everybody's feelings deserve to be coddled. We deserve to be convicted and corrected if needed. But in those moments where the noisy, loud, and prideful tone of the world is expected, we choose to look different. We look more like Jesus.


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