Words and Relationships
God created us to be relational beings. He said, “It is not good for man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18) – relationship from the very beginning. Language is the main way we interact in relationships. If you don’t believe me, just spend some time with me and my mother-in-law. She speaks Romanian and I speak English and we understand very little of what the other person says. There are still smiles and hugs. But we really cannot go very much deeper than that. Words are very important in relationship.
Words have power. God spoke, and the world came into existence! So how do we use our words to build up, bring life, and develop those blessings called relationships?
What should our words look like?
“Gracious speech is like clover honey – good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.” Proverbs 19:14 MSG
Clover honey – I guess that means our words are supposed to be yummy!
I know when my husband isn’t feeling well. He heads to the kitchen and makes tea with honey and lemon. I think it’s a Romanian thing. But it works. Honey has healing properties. It’s sweet and delicious. It soothes. And this is what our words should feel like for people. Clover honey.
So what do these honey words sound like? Another image we see in scripture can be helpful here:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 NASB
Before I speak I can ask myself, are my words loving? Are they patient? Are they kind? Do they exhibit self-control?
Sometimes I Blow It
But let’s face it, sometimes I blow it. So what do I do when my words are NOT loving, kind, peaceful, gentle? How can my speech be like clover honey after I have scalded someone with harsh or careless words?
My first step is to run to God. “Lord, I blew it. I’m sorry. Please help me make this right.” And then I have to listen and obey. It might mean going back to the person to say “I’m sorry.” Or “I was wrong.” Or “I should not have spoken to you that way.” These are not easy things to admit. They are hard words. Do you know what else is as sweet as honey? Humility. It’s hard work, and it is small daily choices, but it sure makes life and relationships sweeter and healthier.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
A Spoon Full of Sugar
So does that mean we don’t ever say difficult things or address negative issues? Of course not. Sometimes not saying something is as damaging as saying the wrong thing. But in the words of Mary Poppins, “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Take a moment and sing the song to yourself. You know you want to! I’ll wait…
My mentor and dear friend has told me my whole life, “You can say anything with kindness.” She is a bit like Mary Poppins, now that I think about it! I just love them both so much.
It takes strength to say the hard things in the right way. Strength I don’t always have. I avoid conflict like the plague! But healthy conflict is necessary in strong relationships. Through healthy conflict our relationships grow stronger and deeper. And our words are an important part of that process.
I drink apple cider vinegar. I’ve seen the Facebook posts about how healthy it is for your body, and on my good days I am a Trim Healthy Mama. Anything that combats bloating is my friend! But I certainly cannot drink it on its own. Hard words are like this vinegar. They are difficult to take in their raw form. With my apple cider vinegar, I add stevia and lemon and ginger and I dilute it with water, and then the vinegar is actually tolerable. I almost develop a taste for it. I recognize that it helps me. When I hear hard words that are wrapped in grace it is like mixing it with that kind of sweetness. Or clover honey.
Grace & Humility
You cannot control how someone responds to your words, but you can control how you say those words. “I want the best for you. You are important to me. I am committed to you. And because of that, I need to talk to you about…” I can take correction like that. Temper your words with grace and humility, and lives and relationships are made beautiful.
We really cannot do this without God’s grace in our lives. The more we understand God’s love and grace for us, the more we will be able to extend love and grace to others. Do you want to know that amazing grace in a deeper way? Let’s pray.
Lord, thank you for your grace in my life. Your word to me is life. Please help guard my speech. I give my words to you. I want to drip with your grace and extend your love to those around me, even when it is hard. Help me live and love in humility. Amen.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT