The qualities of Christ’s words changed those around him and the World. His words mattered, both in the moment and for eternity. As Christ followers, we are commanded to emulate him. For unedifying, self-serving, ill-conceived, unwise, untruthful, and proud words may win the moment, the hour, the day, the decade, and even the century, but Christ’s followers are called to live as ones bought by Christ to produce eternal, fruitful results. There are only two options for our words: those that are unproductive for Christ, and those that are fruitful for his purposes. It is a hard lesson, and one that I have to continually be renewing in my mind in order to grow into greater maturity.
The world around us makes effective use of the improper language to achieve temporal goals, but Christ used his words to produce fruit for eternity. It does not mean what we say and write does not matter for today, but rather the focus is on its effectiveness forever. When we give a kind word to a stranger, or blessing to those who harm us, it matters now and for eternity. An impartial word or a lie matters for now, but is of no benefit in heaven. Remember, that as Disciples of Christ, we already have a King on the thrown who gives us orders as faithful subjects. We are to speak and write in light of that fact.
Like a faithful soldier, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Php 1:21). What about us? Can we also be faithful despite a society that uses many words to produce desired effects at home, in law and politics, in sports, and at work? What are they, except things that will pass away as we enter eternity. To put bluntly, forever is a much longer time than one’s life during a single century. Let us take courage and make our words benefit us and others for eternity. We often act as God does not know the future, or have providence over our lives. The future is known, and we are called to let God be the arbiter of his hidden will. We are called to speak with care and in accordance to his known will – the very precepts given in his word. Every idle or meaningful word we write or say is known by God. Let it be praised by him. Below is simple non-exhaustive list of 9 qualities of Christ that we should use before we communicate via our pen and our mouth.
Gracious and Wise
Graciousness and wisdom go hand in hand. It is hard to have one without the other.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Col 4:5–6)
Blessing instead of Vengeful
In this modern culture, we rarely see those in the public square, who are being persecuted, bless their persecutors. Despite this, we are not to take vengeance on those who slander us. We are to repay others with good. Let God be your just judge in the matter.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Ro 12:14)
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” (1 Pe 3:9)
Meek and Respectful
The embers of Christian meekness are set aflame by Christ. His inner gentleness is an example for our obedience. His Spirit, living through us, bursts forth as a comforting radiance onto our lives and those around us.
“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Pe 3:15)
Wholesome in Attitude
Quick, pithy communication rules the day. Often used with anger, slander, and malice to win the objective in a soundbite, tweet, or post. Let Christian communication be set apart. If God is sovereign, he does not need evil to accomplish good. Remember the life of Christ. He never broke this command to win the universe. We must live by faith and follow his lead.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29)
“But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Col 3:8)
Truthful in Knowledge and Testimony
If all truth is God’s truth, it is imperative to both understand and represent the facts to the best of our ability. The spirit of the commandment not to bear false witness is in effect. We need not intentionally or unintentional slander, mislead, or misinform others.
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices” (Col 3:9)
Impartial Between Parties
Who wants to be in front of an impartial judge? We are all too often partial, biased by our culture, education, and environment. May we speak with wisdom and humbleness so as to be like Christ.
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” (Dt 10:17–18)
Slow to Anger
The wisdom of James takes years to understand and put into practice. It is like a teenager growing into adulthood. May God benefit your life and soul with its practice.
“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (Jas 1:19–20)
All verses are quoted using The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.