Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sweet and Salty Words

Yin and Yang. Black and White. Discipline and Reward. 

Our lives often seem to be held in a balance. Every day we have a series of choices to make that govern the path of our lives.

The same is true in our communication. In the field of interpersonal communication, we are aware that people face opposites every day, but they occur in a "both/and" format. For instance, at times I want to be with my partner, while at the same time I want time apart from my partner. I want to be with you, but I want time alone. These dialectics, as they are called, occur in various parts of our relationships, and between those in relationship and their social world.

We see evidence of this "both/and" concept in today's verse: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 4:6) that speaks directly to the concept of opposites presenting a choice in our lives.

Let's unpack this a bit and see how we can live Paul's direction.  According to Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, "Grace is the salt which seasons our discourse, and keeps it from corrupting."
My New American Standard Bible (study version) says that the salt is used for preserving, as in with meat. 

In looking at these two sources, it seems that our words should be both sweet and salty. I'm picturing a good piece of ginger-pistachio chocolate bark right now! Lots of salty pistachio with sweet, tangy ginger wrapped up in dark chocolate. Can you feel all those tastes and textures?

The way we talk with people should be just like that. We should be sweet (gracious, kind, loving, understanding; think Proverbs 4:7 - Wisdom is the main thing; Therefore get wisdom; And in all your getting, get understanding.) We should also be salty (lively, preserving, life-giving, ready to give an account for what we believe, wholesome, filled with Truth). 

We can be both at one time. We can speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) in all that we do. When we do this, we will know how to answer each person. Too often, I think I am trying to come up with the "right" answer, instead of the answer that is both sweet and salty - and in line with what God wants - the truth in love. When we focus on answering the way we learn from Colossians and Ephesians  we will know what to say...whether to our spouse, kids, or friends. 

Happy Communicating,

Friday, October 17, 2014

Where Do a Fool's Lips Walk?

After beginning this week in the book of Proverbs, I decided to camp out here for the week. Proverbs is filled with simple, realistic advice about how to handle our relationships. While some people advocate reading one chapter for each day of the month (there are 31 chapters), I find that too much to chew at one time. I prefer to dig into just a few verses at a time to really implement the lessons. 

Today's lesson is about fools. I know, WE aren't fools. But we certainly know who ARE!

So, whether the fool is US or THEM, Solomon tell us that, 
"A fool's lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating." (Proverbs 18:6)

In this case a fool refers to unwise or ungodly people. These wise or ungodly people are quick to quarrel. 

I don't know about you, but I never intend to let my foolish lips walk into an argument. Yet, I consistently jump to being defensive, instead of listening first. I assume that friends and loved ones might be insulting me instead of seeking to understand their perspective first (Proverbs 4:7). 
My experience tells me that when my foolish lips walk into a fight, the consequences are not pleasant. While those consequences don't lead to beatings in my life, they do lead to damaged relationships. In many ways, when I speak foolishly, my relationship is the one to suffer the beating. There are far too many people who want to see our families fall apart. We shouldn't be sabotaging them from within.

In light of this knowledge, today I'm in prayer to understand my loved ones and implement another wonderful Proverb: 
"Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Proverbs 141:3)


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Apples of Gold in Settings of Silver

      Many years ago, I became interested in studying how families can talk with each other to be happier, peaceful, and more productive. After formal schooling, this study led me back to the Bible. What does the Bible say about how we can have happier, more fulfilling family relationships?

One of the first verses that leapt out for me was Proverbs 25:11 - “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” King Solomon, the author of this proverb, tells us in Proverbs 8:19 that silver and gold are the fruit of wisdom. If a word is “aptly spoken,” it happens at just the right time and circumstance. So here we learn that saying the right thing at the right time is very wise. 

      I find these opportunities come when I least want them, however…when it’s late and a child has worked very hard on homework for hours, yet I want to push her to the shower instead of taking a moment to praise her perseverance. . .  when my child responds with joy instead of frustration to his younger sibling’s fit throwing and I'm tempted to only address the fit and not the wise response. 

     The examples are everywhere in our lives. Proverbs 25:11 reminds us to take that extra second to praise what is good about our spouse and children. 

How can you incorporate Proverbs 25:11 into your family this October?