This week we continue our series on healthy relationships. Forming and maintaining healthy relationships isn’t always easy. One key to pursuing healthy biblical relationships is to practice life-giving verbal communication.

Read Ephesians 4.25–32.

Words Have Power (Proverbs 12.18; 18.21)

“The power of life and death.” That’s a lot of power. Most of us have experienced the damaging power of words. Gossip, judging, insults, lies—the list goes on and on. But words can also have great positive impact. Speeches like the Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech have helped shape our country and the struggle for racial reconciliation. Likewise, the timely encouragements of someone we respect can transform the direction of our lives.

Our words can change someone’s life for good or bad, so we need to be people who will use this power we’ve been given to make a positive impact in our community, country, and world. But how do we make sure our words will be uplifting?

1. Be a rock-star listener. (Proverbs 29.20; James 1.19–20)

When we listen well to others, we communicate that we care and extend them dignity and honor. When we hear them out, we demonstrate the humble desire to learn from their perspective. It shows them that they matter. Another important part of being a good listener is to ask good questions that seek to learn about the person, their background, their dreams, and their spiritual condition.

2. Refuse to speak out of anger. (Psalm 37.8; Ephesians 4.26–28)

These passages show us that speaking in anger brings power for evil. If we are angry, we need to be willing to hit the pause button on a conversation or response, pray for wisdom, and seek to reframe the situation to understand the perspective of the other person. When we respond out of anger, we leave the door open for misunderstanding, hurt, and damaged relationships. In these cases we need to have the humility to apologize and seek to make it right.

3. Be honest. (Ephesians 4.25)

This doesn’t just mean that we shouldn’t lie to others, but that we need to be willing to graciously speak the truth. Healthy communication isn’t just stuffing the unpleasant topics away; it includes being honest enough to tell the other person where you’re at and what you’re feeling. Too often, we stop just short of getting to the heart of a matter because we aren’t willing to share that last little bit.

4. Use words that build up. (Ephesians 4.29; Proverbs 16.24)

Words can be instruments of great healing and encouragement as we communicate with honesty, humility, and an attitude of love. When we need to say the “hard thing,” our goal should be to build people up by affirming their potential, speaking vision into their lives, and applauding their right actions.

5. Know where your words come from. (Matthew 12.34–35; Jeremiah 17.9; 2 Corinthians 5.15–18)

The origin of our words is our hearts. If we have mean, angry, hurtful things coming from our mouths then we need to stop and take a serious look at the state of our hearts. Only when we are living in the heart-renewing love and life of Jesus Christ will we be able to experience healthy communication and relationships with others.

Discussion Questions

  1. Can you recall a time when you experienced a one-sided conversation where one person did all the talking? Which side of the conversation were you on?
  2. What is one relationship where you need to work on being a better listener? What might this look like?
  3. Where can you use your words to speak out and bring life to your community, country, or world?
  4. When you are angry, which do you need to work on more—hitting the pause button or reframing the situation?
  5. How and where could you put the practice of positive affirmation into action?
  6. Are you happy with what comes from your heart and out your mouth? Make a commitment to let Jesus be the hope of your heart.