Gentle Speech

Proverb 15: 1, 4

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

This is such an important lesson to learn and I know many of you have. For the rest of us, it is an easy way to fail. I have learned that the same message can be conveyed abruptly or gently, harshly or mildly. It often takes more words to say something gently, but the message is received more easily when it is offered in tender words.

I am the kind of person who likes to just say what I am thinking and move on with life. I don’t like taking the time to craft a sentence with fifteen words when I can say it with five. However, I am learning that gentility of speech is a major leadership skill. The time it takes to make the message more palatable is worth the effort in the way your hearers receive it.

Tone of voice is important too, as you know, and we all need to learn to take the time and effort to speak with one another in gentle tones and with soothing words. Many household arguments could be avoided by answering in a gentle way. It is guaranteed that if you answer your spouse with a harsh word that you are going to stir up the hornet’s nest.

You can make your same point and have it received more readily when you use soothing language, gentle speech. People are able to hear your message rather than conflict with the means of conveyance. When we are short with people, they have already stopped listening from the start. It seems like a waste of time and energy to use flowery speech when two or three words can get the job done but when you consider that the communication involves two people you can also see that not alienating one of them will make our communication more effective.

There is no value in stirring up anger. The value we have for our listeners really demands that we consider the wrapping our message is cloaked in. None of us wishes to crush the spirit of the listener and even though it may feel like a waste of your time, the spirit of the other person weighs more heavily in the calculation. I wish everyone would let me communicate in my communication style but is it obvious from this proverb that there are effective and ineffective ways of speaking to people. If we want to be a blessing, then we have to learn to use gentle language rather than harsh and abrupt. Just consider it a part of your own personal growth and a way to bless God. In the end, you may find that you are the one most blessed by your gentle turn of a phrase.

Blessing is a Choice

Deuteronomy 28: 2, 45          NIV

All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. 45 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord you God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11: 28 (NIV).

I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. Deuteronomy 30: 19 (GW).

Lest we be deceived, thinking God has changed His tune since we are living in the New Testament, I included the words of Jesus from the gospel of Luke.  There is blessing in obedience.  No one wants to hear this, I know.  Obedience is not at the top of our favored subjects. We should not mourn, though.  There is plenty of good news here.  Yes, if we do not obey, the curse, which is in the land, will overtake us.  You do know that there is a curse out there, right?  It came with the fall of humanity, but God’s blessing is bigger than the curse.  And, it is elective.  Anyone who chooses to participate in the blessing, rather than the curse, can.  We learn that from Deuteronomy 30: 19.  God allows us to choose.  So, we can choose to be blessed and why wouldn’t we?

Well, because the price is obedience and, honestly, our generation has a problem with being told what to do, even by God.  We are very self-aware and self-guided.  That is the choice we make.  Will we humble ourselves to the direction of the Lord, or will we adhere to our own form of wisdom?  The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it, but if you observe the world around you, I think you will find very few people who are actually submitted to the Lord.

The other question which must be addressed is, “What, or whom, are we to obey?”  Jesus answered that question in Luke.  We must first humble ourselves to hearing and receiving the Word of God.  Then we obey what the Word says.  That’s it.  Listen and obey.  It sounds easy but it requires slaying our egos and that is hard.  Still, I think I would rather have the blessing than build an altar to my already over-inflated ego.  What about you?!

Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12: 1, 4, 7 – 11

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues and to another the interpretation of tongues, but one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

I wrote to you last week about the power of God and how it seems to be minimally operational in our culture today. We read 2 Corinthians 2: 4 which says, “My message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” This is not the claim, unfortunately of many Christians today, and sadly not even of many ministers. We need to change this.

A couple of years ago I undertook to find every scripture in the Bible which refers to the Holy Spirit. As I looked them up I created a spreadsheet indicating what each verse was about. I also used a keyword for many of the scriptures because I began to notice recurring themes. One of the words which repeatedly occurs in tandem with the Holy Spirit is the word “power”.

In the beginning the Holy Spirit was hovering over the surface of the deep and when God spoke, the power of God through the Holy Spirit manifested and created everything we see and know. He, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. That is why today’s verse is a good response to “The Power is Out.” If we wish to see the power of God manifesting in our lives and in our cities then we must tap into the source. Paul teaches us that these manifestations come through the Spirit of God and they take the form as described in today’s verse. From the word of wisdom to the effecting of miracles, all this is ours in the Spirit. Paul goes on to teach that these manifestations are given to every one of us. They all operate through the Holy Spirit of God; they are His gifts but he is not the one who effectuates the manifestation in the earth. We are the hands and the mouth of God in the earth. The Holy Spirit works in harness with us to bring the power of God to effect in the earth. Miracles, healing, words of wisdom and knowledge are all gifts of the Holy Spirit given to each one of us. You have the ability to prophesy if you have the Holy Spirit because all of the power of God and all of these spiritual gifts are in him.

The conclusion is that the power of God isn’t being seen in our lives because we are integral pieces of the dynamic. Once we understand that the power can and should flow through us then we have the opportunity to step in the realm of manifested gifts. You don’t have to be someone special. You don’t have to be a minister. The gifts are already available through your Father’s Spirit.

Ignorance of these gifts and our operation of them has crippled the body of Christ but we can change that. In fact, in just reading this Word of the Day devotional we are collectively moving towards a renewal of the spiritual energy that is ours through Christ our Lord. I was thinking, it takes a bit of courage or perhaps bravado to move forward, to challenge the status quo and importune God for the operation of these gifts in your life. It is much easier to sit in the stands and watch for someone else to step out. However, on the heels of that thought came another. It truly only takes one person to start and the whole body of Christ can begin to grow in the power of God. It’s like the wave cheer at a football game. It begins with just a few but only is fulfilled when others join in. None the less, someone must begin.

Let’s you and I determine not to be afraid but rather to embrace God’s Word, Paul’s teaching and step out into the things God has made available. God gave us power when He gave us His Spirit. Let’s walk in that power and move some mountains.