Nearly twenty years ago, I was on the phone with someone in the congregation where we were attending at the time. I made the phone call while on my break at my workplace. Unbeknownst to me, one of my coworkers was listening to the conversation. Well, he could only hear me talking with the person I was on the phone with, but could not hear them. The conversation was one that should have taken place in person or without anyone present who had no context or information about the topic being discussed. Hence, my coworker had no idea what the other person was saying. The conversation was about some strife and conflict that our little congregation was dealing with. As soon as I hung the phone up, my coworker, looking across the room at me said this, “Hey Al, right there is why I don’t want anything to do with church.” At that moment in time, I realized my words had the power to influence for the good or influence for the bad. Was I being rude in the conversation? Could my tone have been better? Did I say way more than I should? All of these questions and more are still on my mind, nearly 20 years later!
Since that time, I have seen over and over, brethren have conflict with one another, struggle to maintain relationships within congregations, and are just simply challenged when finding the best way to respond to someone over the simplest of things. We all know we don’t always handle everything correctly all the time. I know I wish life had a rewind button to repair some of my responses to others. When conflict arises, we should seek reconciliation. Also, we know that conflict changes relationships and a negative pattern of conflict with others changes relationships. What’s the answer to prevent these situations from arising?
We need to realize “words matter.” James 1:19-20 is clear when it comes to how we need to respond to anyone in any given situation. “So then beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Communication had be difficult at times. Our transmissions during discussions can be uplifting or undermining.
Brothers and sisters, if you are reading this article, you have an interest in maintaining a right relationship with God or you are seeking to know more about the saving message of Scripture. Either way, we all would agree, our goal is to live in Heaven, together! May we seek to find ways to live together on Earth, first!
“Angry words, oh, let them never from the tongue unbridled slip; may the heart’s best impulse ever check them ere they soil the lip.”
South Green Street church of Christ