In James 1:19 we are told this: This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
This verse is good on how to not be angry but it gives good advice on speaking too. We can learn to be slow to anger by first learning to be quick to hear and slow to speak. So much of our anger and wrath comes from being self-centered not others-centered. Being quick to hear which is listening to what others say which is a great way to be others-centered. Slow to speak or thinking before we say something is another way to be others-centered. It keeps coming back to this – if we want to be those who speak encouragement into the lives of others we must be centered on them. In conversations – listen then speak and it will save you a whole lot of anger! One other thing with this – when you listen – put yourself in the shoes of the other person. It helps to see life from a different perspective – but that is a whole different message.
Something else we have a habit of doing is not really listening to what the person is saying but we are building up our argument and not listening to or even hearing a single word they say. This again shows our self-centeredness and our having to win or dominate and shows that we do not care! In order to be a real encouragement to people, we need to make sure they know we care and truly listening is just one small way of showing it.
Your message is not only in what you say but in how you choose to say it. When you speak, how do you say things? What are you facial features like when you say things? The way you look makes all the difference if what you are saying is seen as encouraging or not. Your attitude when you are speaking and listening makes a difference to people also. It either helps or discourages how they hear what you are saying or if they believe you are really listening. How you look and how you say things makes a huge difference in being encouraging!
Keep in mind Proverbs 15:1, A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.
Then think about Proverbs 16: 23, 24 which says, A wise heart instructs its mouth and increases learning with its speech. Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the taste and health to the body.
Someone once said, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.” If you want to be persuasive do not be abrasive. Kind words spoken with a genuine heart are sweet to the soul and healthy for the body for both the person saying the words and the ones to whom they are directed. How many of us like it when people speak with kindness? We all do. We like it because gentle and kind words are pleasant because they calm us, disarm us, and diffuse potentially explosive situations.
Let me ask though – do you come off as persuasive or abrasive? Do people say you are abrasive? He are some reasons people think others are abrasive, because of their choice of words – negative and harsh, vocal tone – sarcastic or mean, their attitude – rolling eyes and disingenuous looks, and their body language – crossed arms. So if you come off as abrasive to others it is time to begin to work on this – regardless your age. There is no excuse for being abrasive. People say – it is the way I am or the way I was born but that does no work because it is not how the Bible tells us we are to live. The Bible is not going to tell us to do something that is not possible for us to do which is to speak the truth in love and being abrasive is unloving, so put your excuse away and work hard on changing and being more persuasive than abrasive.
Kindness and gentleness, they go together. In the Galatians 5:22 we learn that kindness and gentleness are some of the fruits of the God’s Spirit – all the fruit of the Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What these all are is a byproduct of God’s living and working within us. If we have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and are filled with God’s Spirit then our lives should increasingly bear these fruits. Now here is the part for each of us to ponder and that is are fruit of the Spirit seen in my words. We need to ask ourselves are my words filled with or are my conversations fill with: Love? Joy? Peace? Patience? Kindness? Goodness? Gentleness? Faithfulness? Self-control? Are yours conversations filled with these?
Do you have anything else to add? What would you say is the one fruit of the Spirit that you end up using the most in conversation? Why do you think that is?