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James 3:1–12 Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.’(vv5–6)

Words present us with a powerful tool, one which we must take time to learn how to use to the best effect. We easily misuse words to manipulate or abuse. In relationships, we need to discover how to hear and to be heard. 

Communication is an art, not a science. Where trust is compromised, our brain listens for clues in its attempt to avoid further pain. Social media and email, whilst accelerating communication will compromise clarity; words easily constructed and quickly sent invest little thought into how they’ll be interpreted. 

By contrast, God takes time in communicating, ensuring we hear and understand Him clearly (Heb. 1:1–15). This often means dumping our assumptions as we seek to understand God’s Word. Hearing’s easily compromised by emotion, fear, and pride; one reason Scripture encourages us to spend time with God. 

We learn it’s inappropriate to pour our emotional angst over someone, and that in a fragmenting world that a word of encouragement goes a long way to establish trust and friendship. How and what we communicate is at our discretion. As society fragments, we must be aware of emergent groups seeking to build on deep-seated prejudices aimed at the humiliation and isolation of their ‘opponents’. 

It’s no use saying, ‘I didn’t mean what I Tweeted’; it stands as a permanent testimony. Choose to live as an encourager through your words. After all, the greatest evidence for the truth of God’s good news is the love we have for each other (John 13:35).

Prov. 16:23–33; Eccl. 5:1–7; Eph. 4:25–32; Jas. 1:19–27

What does friendship look like in your life? Are you able to encourage
others and build participation to counter the fragmentation all around?

‘Lord, may I take the time to pause and develop a fresh communication strategy.
It’s time I learn how to use words well because they really do matter. Amen.’

Photo by Kingsley Osei-Abrah on Unsplash
Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.