Back in 2003 John C Maxwell had published a little book with a challenging title for some “There’s No Such Thing as Business Ethics” with a dedication reading “This book is dedicated to you for your commitment to making ethical decisions and living an ethical life. Doing the right thing may not always be easy – but it is always right.” He bases his arguments on what has been called The Golden Rule – “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Through the twists and the turns of the year that we have seen in our nation from the fires through to Covid-19 we have had one certainty “we can trust in the Lord”, amongst the many verses in scripture this one is often spoken in these days “I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.” Psalms 91:2-3
However, through the lockdowns and changed working conditions some relationships – marriages and families have been put under great pressure as they try to manage/juggle both husband and wife working at home and then home schooling and or jobs being lost. To add to this couples have seen or more likely heard a different part of their spouses character – the way they speak with work colleagues or clients. Maybe a different tone of voice, more chatty or more tolerant and the list of differences can be great. It is these differences that can start to highlight problems or be a cause of aggravation and or hurt. It is very easy for us to develop a different character for our work place, for our family and within our church – this is all part of what John Maxwell was writing about, we should have one standard of ethics, that we have one set of rules or standards for right conduct or practice and that is Gods standard.
One of the biggest areas where we are likely to deviate is in our communication as we know communication is more than just our talking and the words that we use. Some while ago it was reported that a group of junior High Schoolers in the USA came up with this definition for ‘communication’: “Communication is talking without a wall building up. Its hearing what was said and knowing what was meant. Sometimes it involves a look, or a touch, with no words at all. Its sharing in such a way that the other person really understands what you are saying. Listening is the hardest part of communication”
A lot is at stake in what we communicate [and in a lot of the world this includes hands that sms, type paint or sign]. As Proverbs 18:21 tells us “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”.
Deaths can occur because of words spoken. Tongues can bring about death on a large scale – a weapons of mass destruction – causing the start of war and civil unrest. Tongues can also bring death to marriages, families, relationships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments.
But through the tongue life can be given – it can be “a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4); it can bring reconciliation and peace and make peace. “The peacemakers are blessed, ..” (Matthew 5:9). Tongues can make marriages flourish, strong, robust families, and healthy churches, communities, nations. Tongues can bring hope to the despairing, increase understanding, and spread the gospel.
Much is said in scripture about how we should speak and how we should communicate, and this should be our standard in all parts of our life. The tongue is a powerful part of communication and should be used for good otherwise it should be bridled.
Luke 6:45 “A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
Matthew 12:33-37 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. A good man produces good things from his storeroom of good, and an evil man produces evil things from his storeroom of evil. I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The first challenge to Christian communication is the condition of our heart, we are born with a sin nature (Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23) and therefore our hearts are inherently corrupt (Jeremiah 17:9). We see from the words of Jesus that bad hearts produce bad communication. Thankfully, the Spirit of God removes our corrupt unbelieving hearts and replaces them with hearts that believe in Christ and desire to obey God (Ezekiel 11:19-20). Christ, thus becomes our mediator, the peacemaker between God and us (Romans 5:6-12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of Christ, we can come before God in prayer, trusting that He hears us and responds to us (Hebrews 4:14-16; Matthew 6:7-13; John 15:7-8). The Holy Spirit also enables us to live as Christ lived. As we grow in faith, we become more and more like Christ; we are made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). This newness affects not only our relationship with God, but the way we interact with one another (Colossians 3; Galatians 6).
It is the Spirit of God who changes our hearts and therefore the Holy Spirit is the master key to Christian communication. We cannot communicate as Christians without a heart transplant, and it is the Spirit of God who performs the surgery.
Before we had the Spirit, our communication was the product of our sin nature, which is referred to in Scripture as “the flesh” (Galatians 5:19-24). Communication produced by the flesh includes, among other sins: lying, hatred, divisions, greed, selfishness, and sexual immorality. The unregenerate man uses the natural gifts given by God to communicate blasphemy and profanity.
On the contrary, in a Christian, the Spirit changes the condition and disposition of the heart resulting in godly communication. Christian communication is produced by the Spirit and is motivated by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
These attributes describe the work of the Spirit and the way in which Christ Himself communicated. In order for our communication to be Christian, it must resemble the communication of Christ Himself.
We and we alone are the only ones that can allow the Holy Spirit to bring about this change and from there set our standards in all.
Improving communication skills and maintain one standard, one ethic can bring life to marriages, families, relationships, churches, careers, hopes, understanding, reputations, missionary efforts, and governments let alone our relationship with the Lord.