I am noticing, not for the first time, that there is a lot in the Bible about conversation. Conversation is a tremendous part of society and usually a part of each day. Conversation is communication in it’s most basic form. When people are conversing honestly and openly there is less need to read facial expressions and body language. Face to face there is no need to figure out if a person is SHOUTING AT YOU or just stuck on all caps, and eliminates the need to interpret the meaning of twenty-five emojis. It is simple and part of community with family, our neighbors and the body of Christ. Not surprisingly, for so simple a thing, I often get it wrong. Maybe I was too straight forward or transactional when time and care were necessary. Sometimes we wield the power of words and conversation without enough thought for the person sitting across from us.
Colossians 4:5, 6 says, “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone”. Ephesians 4:29 takes it further saying, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them”.
These letters are written by Paul: apostle, teacher, speaker. His words, written and spoken, mattered. He was a representative of Christ. Although we may not have a public venue to speak in as Paul did, we are each representatives of Christ. How we interact interpersonally in community, family and within the body of Christ matters.
This verse in Colossians tells us to let our “conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” This feels like a tough order. Not all of life is sunshine and rainbows. However, we can still choose our words when we face dark days and grumpy people. Honest words spoken in kindness are preferable to pretty lies or harsh proclamations. But being authentically yourself isn’t an all access pass to say what you want and to pop the balloons of small children. Our words can and should be an encouragement to others. Our words are opportunities to let Christ live through us. “Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” The “so that” in this verse means something. It means that the result of my good and helpful words is encouragement. Others are blessed, motivated, inspired, lifted up and strengthened by my words.
Anyone who knows me knows that I sometimes say the wrong thing, or say the right thing the wrong way. Knowing that my words are supposed to be an encouragement to others is something I continually remind myself. Lately for me, being real or authentic means living in light of Gods words to me. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”. I am just a normal girl walking with God imperfectly, and trying to live my faith in Him out in the world–hoping that people can see that I love them and I love Jesus with all my heart.