A believer growing in Christ readily understands guidelines of Christ-honoring communication, such as:
Ephesians 4:29, Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Colossians 4:6, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
James 5:16, Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
You could be growing in Christ yet not be able to immediately recognize how or when to communicate in certain situations. For example:
- Would you hasten to confess your sins to someone you have sinned against but who has indicated no interest in hearing from you? How should you respond to this rejection and bring honor to Christ?
- Should you ask for forgiveness from an unbeliever against whom you have sinned, knowing that an unbeliever does not understand biblical forgiveness? (1 Corinthians 2:14 says that the natural person cannot understand the things of God.) If you ask, what would you say?
- Would you confess your sin(s) to a believer you have sinned against when your fellow believer has indicated no interest in forgiving you due to mistrusting your motivation? How should you respond to this rejection?
- Would you promptly begin the first step of church discipline and restoration with a fellow believer who is hiding his sin(s) by lying?
- Would you begin the process of church discipline and restoration of a professing believer who is not convicted of committing sin(s) and, thus, will not consider repentance? What are the specifics of your response?
- Would you confess some of your sins to another believer but not confess all of them because they are an embarrassment to you?
- Would you confess some of your sins to someone you sinned against but omit other associated sins because you do not believe the other person is ready to hear them? Should other believers help and, if so, how?
- Would you immediately correct a fellow believer who sinned publicly before others? What would be the criteria for public admonishment?
- Would you return to confess more sins committed against a fellow believer who experienced great sorrow over your earlier confession and struggled significantly with granting initial forgiveness?
All of the previously listed scenarios deal with sin, confession, and forgiveness. Of course, there are many other situations of life outside of these related subjects. The purpose of these illustrations is to show that not all circumstances of life elicit immediately discernible answers that align with scriptural truth.
Actually, there is not enough information given in any of the illustrations for a clearly discernible and accurate biblical answer to surface readily. In addition, certain variables would influence the order and use of scriptural truths on which to base Christ-honoring responses. For example, what is the relationship and gender of those mentioned in each question? How about the timing and appropriate setting for each response? What about the motivation behind each of your actions or verbal responses? Should other believers participate in some situations and, if so, when should they? Are some situations designed only for your personal response?
Most importantly, what scriptures are applicable to each situation? Unless you could determine a clearly understood biblical basis for every response, you would be wise not to act immediately but, instead, to diligently study Scripture for guidance.
2 Timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
James 1:19, Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger
In addition to your study and appropriate application of Scripture to specific situations of life, spend time hearing from the Lord in prayer before responding to difficult issues. Other believers can be invited to pray with and for you as needed.
James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
Communication … From God to Us
By His grace, God has communicated through the living Word (the Lord Jesus Christ), and the written Word (the Bible) to help each believer in Christ know how to deal with any circumstance of life. God’s Spirit will enable Christ-honoring believers to correctly apply divine Truth to every aspect of life and relationships. To honor God in your communication, be devoted to prayer and acquiring wisdom.
Personal Communication that Requires Wisdom and Prayer © 2012 WordTruth, Inc—http://www.wordtruth.net
Verses from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version © 2001Version by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers