What’s Love NOT to Do?

According to Psychology Today, “When doctors and therapists teach patients to turn negative thoughts and worries into positive affirmations, the communication process improves, and the patient regains self-control and confidence. But there’s a problem: The brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts. They’re not a threat to our survival, so the brain doesn’t need to respond as rapidly as it does to negative thoughts and words.1 So, why is it that God specifically gives us negative “don’t” instructions in His Word? I can think of a couple reasons, in response to this. Do you notice how the quote says, “the patient regains self-control and confidence,” through positive affirmations? “Self-control” is meant to be produced in cooperation with the Spirit of God, Who empowers us to do things outside of what we can do on our own; this quote gives the false hope that we ever had or can have self-control through our own manufacturing. Also, if our “brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts,” God knowingly, as the Designer and Creator of our physical form, wanted to give us parameters for our behavior in order to be a proper reflection of Him; and negative words can encourage a quicker reaction to what He’s said.

We’ve already spent a good chunk of time, looking at what love is (if you’ve missed it, feel free to look back at the last three posts). In order to gain a full understanding of love, we need to expose what it isn’t. Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 inform us of what love doesn’t do. Let’s take a look at several of them.

Love Doesn’t:

  • Envy (Vs. 4). In Greek, this word is onomatopoetic (yeah, don’t strain yourself; I can’t pronounce it easily, either). It means that the word sounds like what it means. In this instance, it sounds like boiling water, which is similar to its meaning–getting piping hot and boiling over. While the Greek word it comes from can be used positively (zeal) or negatively (jealousy), this context is negative; it’s an active word (verb) that is moving, just like those bubbles in the boiling water; however, in this case, it’s being moved by envy, hatred, and/or anger. Just like watching water, as it begins to boil, the bubbles start out few and small, but eventually, they come to a “rolling boil,” where the bubbles are large and hot water can splatter all over the place, if the heat isn’t turned down.
Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash
Have you ever felt like this? Admittedly, I’ve been there too many times! My issue tends to be anger. I’ve had instances when I was absent from a group of people for months, even years, due to my health. When I was able to be with them, again, there were a couple different people who made some pretty insensitive remarks. I was boiling on the inside (probably the outside, too; I’m not very good at hiding my emotions)! Did I have a right to be angry because of their hurtful words? Yes! Sin is a hurtful thing, but what was moving me was anger, not true love. I was angry at them, not the sin. I didn’t remark, afterward, “I wonder what’s going on in _____’s life that ___ thought that comment was appropriate to say. Was _____ just uncomfortable and didn’t know how to talk about what was facing our family?” I didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I was all hot water, and words soon splattered all over the place, when they weren’t in earshot. The LORD is showing me, even as I type this, that I was fueled by a desire to be missed…to know I and my family weren’t completely forgotten about…to have someone say, “We’ve really missed seeing you guys! I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to be here.” That would’ve been an agapé love response, but even though that lacked on their end, their actions or words don’t justify my own. I’m thankful God’s Spirit closed my mouth in both instances to keep me from giving them an earful, but my reaction and words afterward (even months afterward) has a ways to go to show agapé love.
If you remember from the “Love: The Key Ingredient” post, love intensely and passionately acts against sin, but doesn’t sin in the process. It’s displaying patience when others offend or hurt you, being unhurried at “getting back at them.” While I may not have verbally gotten back at them to their faces, my heart, harboring the hurt and resentment and talking about it with others, but not them, is sinful…and the complete opposite of what love is. God has brought me, through writing this, to forgive them and to think of ways to properly respond, if ever in that situation, again.
  • Act out of shape (Vs. 5). No, we’re not talking about our weight or level of physical exercise. We’re talking about acting improperly. Your version of the Bible may say, “dishonor others, act rudely/unbecomingly/improperly/disgracefully…” All of them mean that if we’re God’s kids and aren’t conforming to what God prefers (agapé), our behavior or language doesn’t fit our character or status as God’s child. We’re out of shape. May I refer you, again, to the previous example (in a number of ways)?!?
  • Seek after himself/herself (Vs. 5). Here we are, again; the “seeking” or “striving after” isn’t the bad part; the object of our affection is! In my story above, I was seeking myself out of pain, rather than striving after GOD and what HE prefers. The Greek word for “seeking,” here, is really about getting to the bottom of something by asking questions in order to gain an understanding.
When was the last time you asked yourself those hard questions, to understand who the object of your affection is, in any given circumstance?

“Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person [the one who is different from you].”

1 Corinthians 10:24 NETB
  • Jab Others (Vs. 5). Your version may refer to it as being “provoked.” “Jab” has a picture, here, of being close beside someone and cutting them sharply in order to trigger their feelings (emotions). Maybe it’s to get a rise out of someone or just plain ‘ole wanting to hurt them the way they hurt you.
  • Regard someone as guilty of being nasty on the inside with awful, tainted character just because he or she shares a similar quality to someone else (Vs. 5). I find this interesting, as this, too, has a possibility of being used for good, as we can regard someone as having beautiful character, because he or she shares a similar characteristic as someone else we know. It’s certainly easy to assume things about people, based on past experiences. We see, here, that making someone responsible for a corrupted identity, which belongs to someone else, as a result of our false association, is not love.

I’m going to stop here. Not only is this enough to take in, but the LORD is hitting me with an ample amount to confess and work through! We’ll pick up next post on the rest of the “don’t” list.

This is as real as it gets. Is there anything related to this “Don’t” list that the LORD is stirring inside you?
Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

1 Newberg, Andrew M.D. and Mark Waldman. “Why This Word Is So Dangerous to Say or Hear.” Psychology Today, 1 August 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/why-word-is-so-dangerous-say-or-hear.

Love: The Key Ingredient–Part 2

Are you thinking, “Really?!? This, again?!? I’ve read/studied 1 Corinthians 13 so many times and heard sermons galore on love; I don’t need to read your post on it, too! Other things are calling for my time.” Before you exit out of this, please hear me! It’s not me, beckoning to you! God’s the one Who instructed me to explore and write about love…from this chapter! He’s already shown me nuggets of truth that are fresh and new in my life…and a way of looking at love that’s changed some interactions I’ve had, even just these last couple weeks! Love is defined in our world very differently than “what God prefers,” which is the definition of agapé love and what the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 is about! We need to fully understand Who God is and what He prefers in order to weed out imposters of true love and explain/show it to others! I’m praying you’ll take some time to dig in with me. What will God show you?

We’re going to excavate Verse 7 of this chapter and continue focusing on what love is.

There are four things that Verse 7 says love does…and every single one of them has “all things” describing when love does them. “All things” means just that; we’re to do what God prefers in each and every situation we encounter.

Each situation, involving a lot of work or activity + Each situation (still a lot of work) + …(You get the idea) = All (one at a time, gradually encompassing a large magnitude)

So, what are the four things Verse 7 says love continually does?

  • Bears. What’s that really mean, anyway?…In every conversation, in every situation, we’re to be a safe place for others. The Greek word used here for “bear” or “protect” is stegó, which refers to a strengthened roof that keeps out rain. I love this visual! In order to be this bearer or protector of others, we need to recognize Who our “strengthened roof” is (God) and put all things under His protection (you can read more about this thought in a previous post, “What’s it Look Like to Abide?,” by clicking the link at the end of this post). We aren’t putting things under His protection by standing out in a torrential downpour with a little umbrella we grabbed, that buckles at its ribs under the pressure; that’s using our means to try to protect ourselves. We put things under His protection by moving to safety under His covering and staying put under His keeping, relying on Him! He does the protecting and strengthening! As we make the move and abide under His protection during the scorching heat and intense storms of our lives, God enables us to help show others how to come in out of the “rain” and “heat” in theirs, as we relay Who our Protector is and focus on these truths. God will strengthen and refresh not only us in order to endure these times of our lives, but others’, as well. Since God is love, He’s the One, ultimately, Who “bears all things;” we just have to get in position (close to Him, under His protection, and yielded to His authority).
Photo by Richard Hewat on Unsplash
What can this look like?
Praying with someone or reading Scripture with them. A friend offered to come over, when I was first dealing with a lot of my health stuff, and read a portion of Scripture with me that the LORD had been putting on her heart. I was in tears. Amidst the chapters she read were verses God had highlighted and used in my life over the previous months. The act of listening, while she read, brought to my heart and mind additional truths through God’s Spirit, while reminding me of what He’d already spoken to me! I was SO grateful for that time! I can’t say I’d thought a lot of sitting and reading Scripture with people before as a way of walking a journey with them, but I saw, then, what an encouragement it can be, when we let the LORD, through His Spirit, lead in pointing us…and others… to Truth! Maybe it’s sending a similar text, email, or phone call, as the LORD brings someone and a passage of Scripture, specifically, to your mind. I’ve received many words of encouragement this way, as well; they’ve helped focus my heart and mind on different Truths.
Quietly listening, then graciously leading someone to Truth.
Making sure that when someone shares something with us in confidence, we don’t share it with others.
Giving aid to those physically needing it, as the LORD leads, and giving credit to Him.
  • Endures. This means to stay under the weight. So, not only are we to stay put under God’s protection, but we’re also to bring anything that divides our being into pieces (that causes us to not be whole), with us under His “roof;” it’s there we can throw off that “thing,” under His care, because He cares about, thinks about, and is interested in us (1 Peter 5:7). “Endure” comes from two Greek words: 1. hupo, meaning “under” (typically referring to being under someone else’s authority) and 2. menó (which, again, brings us back to understanding what it means to abide). It’s when we bring the weight to Him and stay close to Him, under His keeping and authority, that He empowers us to endure.
  • Believes. This word is a verb (action) form of “faith,” which comes from a root word, meaning “persuade” or “be persuaded, come to trust.” It’s not persuading ourselves, where the belief is self-serving. It’s God allowing us to see and understand truth and our trusting in it…in Him.
  • Hopes. Once again, it’s a verb (Are you getting the picture that love is not only Who God is, but how He actively shows Himself to us, and how we, in turn, actively show Him to others, including God Himself?). Hope is expecting what’s certain about what we believe, based on what we’ve come to trust about God (faith).

Can you see how all four of these actions of love are related? An active belief in what God has promised or Who He is shows itself as trusting what He’s said. If we believe something is true and sure, it makes sense that we’d expect it to be as we believe (which is hope). If we believe something that God has persuaded us is true (faith) and expect it as certain (hope), we’ll find God’s authority as a safe place and bring our brokenness under it (bear), and He’ll enable us to endure. This is love; it has everything to do with God. I don’t think we always recognize these aspects as love, but they’re all reflections of what we believe and come to trust about God, Who is true love, Himself; they’re ways we express our love for Him in return.

What have your actions been saying about what you believe and expect (hope in)?
Is God your safe place? Are you bringing your brokenness under His authority and experiencing His strength, empowering you to endure? Are you abiding in Him? Are you a safe place for others?

If you’ve missed the other aspects of love, as defined in the earlier verses of Chapter 13, please check them out at the top of this page, on the right side, under “Latest Growth (aka Recent Posts).” Next post, we’ll dig into what love isn’t.

Love: the Key Ingredient

Physical connection…That’s what some people believe strong love is. There are parts of this that are true…making time and making effort produces strong love, but a key element is missing from this equation. If this element is absent, love becomes whatever you want it to be…all the while, it’s not really love at all.

Last post, we concentrated on the Truth that “…GOD is love” (1 John 4:8) and that the Greek word for “love” in this verse is the exact same word that’s used in 1 Corinthians 13:1– “agapé.” GOD is the missing piece to the equation above!! When we read about love in both of these verses, we’re really reading about GOD–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. If God is missing from someone’s definition of love, according to the truths of God’s Word, it’s not true love.

Today, we’re going to dive into the next verses of 1 Corinthians 13, Verses 4-6. In these verses, we see what love is and what it isn’t. Again, please don’t ditch this post, because you’ve read and studied these verses so many times!! God’s directed me to dig into these verses, and my prayer is that something new stands out to you, as it has to me. Hang with me!

The word for love in Verse 4 is agapaó. You can, obviously, see it’s related to agapé, yet there’s a big difference between the two words. Agapé is a noun that identifies Who God IS. Agapaó is a verb, which requires action; it’s embodying what God prefers and obeying it…living it out, practicing it. God enables us to do these things through the power of His Spirit.

Agapao is a verb, which requires action; it’s embodying what God prefers and obeying it…living it out, practicing it. God enables us to do these things through the power of His Spirit.

Let’s sit with this Truth for a minute…These things listed in 1 Corinthians 13–what we should and shouldn’t do–aren’t things we can do by ourselves or in our own strength; they’re, also, not things we can keep from doing without the power of His Spirit, assisting us! Galatians 5:22 uses the word “agapé” and makes it clear that love is a product of partnering, cooperating with the Spirit of God. This makes sense, since it’s Who He Is! Love is produced when we comply with what God prefers, and He, in turn, enables us, through His Spirit to actively do it. So, with that, let’s see what He prefers and what He’ll give us the power to do, if we readily cooperate with Him.

  • Be slow to retaliate in expressions of anger, driven by passion (i.e., patience controlled by God). The Greek word used in 1 Corinthians 13:4 for this is makrothumeó, which is the verbal form of the noun, makrothumia, found in Galatians 5:22. In Galatians, we see this listed in the character traits of God, which His Spirit produces in us with our cooperation (aka fruits of the Spirit). The active form of this character is intensely and passionately acting against sin, but not sinning in the process. It’s displaying patience when others offend or hurt you, being unhurried at “getting back at them.” I, personally, have had a hard time with this one in my life and have desperately walked step after step toward Him, learning to cooperate more with Him, wanting this part of my life to change. I’ve seen His good work in me first-hand! I do take steps back now and then, but He is faithful to continue this journey with me and give me this ability, when I cooperate!
  • Compassionately serve others in a useful, productive way. When we think of useful and productive, we may first think of what we see (effects or end-products); however, useful and productive may also be unseen (eternal), and how we respond to someone can lead him or her toward OR away from Christ. Sometimes, serving others can mean acting kindly out of forgiveness, when someone doesn’t deserve it. Again, the Greek word for this in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is related to the word used in Galatians 5:22; they both come from the Greek word chréstos, and the one in 1 Corinthians is the verbal (active) form of what is found in Galatians 5. Again, we see that God is wanting us to willingly and actively embody His character in our lives.
  • Pinpoint and name God’s blessings in our lives as truth and share them with others, so we can, together, rejoice in freely receiving God’s favor.
Does this come easily to you, or is it hard?
If it’s hard, do you make a point to sit with Him in quiet and think about what He’s done for you that day or given you? Are you making a point to call His blessings what they are–truly from Him, or are you blowing them off as “happenstances?”
If it’s easy and you do it often, are you sharing God’s blessings in your life with others? Do you find that they’re excited with you, or not? If not, how does that make you feel? Does it make you want to continue to share those things with others? If someone shares God’s blessings, that they’ve experienced in their lives, with you, are you getting excited and celebrating God with them?

No matter how others respond, we’re responsible for us. That’s hard! We can’t use them as an excuse for opposing God in our actions. (Duly noted!) We need to focus our hearts and minds on Who God is–true love–and willingly, actively cooperate with Him, letting Him show Himself to others through us, as He enables us to look more and more like Him.

We’ll pick up in Verse 7 in the next post, continuing on with what love IS. Until then, would you share a true blessing from God in your life? I want to celebrate Him and what He’s doing in your life with you!

“Love each other as I have loved you. This is what I’m commanding you to do.”

~ Jesus, John 15:12 GWT

What’s Love Got to Do with Me?

“I LOVE that sweater!”

“Look how soft this blanket is! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!”

“How ya doin’, LOVE?”

Love…We throw that word around pretty casually, don’t we? My hubby and I just celebrated our wedding anniversary this week. It still amazes me how someone can love me SO much…I mean, truly love, like he does!

Many throw “love” around readily, but do they…do we…really understand what love is? If we do, do we live it out?

To understand love, we have to understand God and what He has to say about it, because He IS love! He’s been directing me this week to dive into a well-known passage (1 Corinthians 13). Please don’t leave, if you’ve already studied it a million times before. I really believe God is going to put a nugget in here that will be new to you, personally…and possibly even challenging. We won’t get through the whole chapter in this post, but we’re going to take in a small, but meaty, chunk. Let’s go!

First John 4:8 says that “…God is love.” The Greek word for “love” in this verse is the exact same word that’s used in 1 Corinthians 13:1– “agapé.” When we read about love in both of these verses, we’re really reading about God–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. Can we sit here for a minute? Too often, we can focus on what WE want, what WE think we deserve, why We are right…When we focus on WE or ME, we lose the point of love…to focus on GOD and what HE chooses. Let’s dig in to see what it is that He does prefer.

When we focus on WE or ME, we lose the point of love…to focus on GOD and what HE chooses.

Verse 1–I can praise God with my words, just as men and angels do, but if I don’t show the affection and kindness God wants me to show; if I don’t mean well; if I’m not friendly, helpful, and cooperative; I’m just makin’ a bunch of sounds that sure do sound like noise. My shouts, complaints, and loud arguing sound like war cries.

God wants my actions to back up my talk–that I’m a follower of Christ. Do they?
He wants my intentions behind my actions to be pure and to consider others. Am I really meaning well, or am I doing anything, because it’s expected…or for show?
He doesn’t want me to complain or argue. It just sounds like I’m at war with someone, rather than living in unity. How am I doing?

Verse 2–If I have the ability to hear God clarify His truth and proclaim it to others with confidence, to know all the secrets God has revealed as well as applied all the knowledge God has given me, and if I have come to trust in all that God has persuaded me is His will [I know this seems a weird way to say this, but “faith” comes from a word that means “be persuaded”]…so much so, that I could change the place of mountains (aka accomplish extremely challenging, impressive, notable, and unimaginable things), but I don’t show the affection and kindness God wants me to show; if I don’t mean well; if I’m not friendly, helpful, and cooperative; I’m nothing…At this time, I’m not the “someone” I think I am, and what I do (and do not do) now can have implications on the future.

Meaning well and being friendly, helpful, and cooperative are far greater things to God than doing something “amazing or note worthy,” according to “human standards.”
Do I put these things as a priority, as God does, or do I measure people’s worth by “achievements?”
Photo by Timo Stern on Unsplash

Verse 3–If I give my crumbs to feed people, person by person, until all I have rule over has been given to feed little bits of food to others, and if I decide to hand over my whole body to be consumed with fire, but don’t mean well and am not friendly, helpful, nor cooperative, my actions have done nothing to help me!

God’s desires for the heart behind the “help” to be pure, well-meaning. What hits me is it’s not giving hoards of food to one person or feeding the poor, like it seems from a lot of translations; it’s literally giving my crumbs or what falls from my mouth to many people, one by one, until everything I have left is gone. I have the rule or freedom over what’s in my possession and what I give, but what’s the heart behind my decisions? That’s what God’s concerned about!
Is my “gift” really friendly and helpful? Am I really sacrificing for others with a heart that means well? Do I do what is helpful for them, or am I just giving and giving my left-overs to a bunch of people to check off boxes that I’ve helped so many, while not taking the time to reach their hearts or know what they really need? Am I giving my best, putting someone else first, before indulging myself; or am I giving my crumbs?
Photo by Dovile Ramoskaite on Unsplash

We’re going to stop there today. We’ll pick up with Verse 4 next post. I’d love to hear how God spoke to you or what was fresh and new for your heart today. Leave a comment/reply!

Eyes to See

A close friend and I were talking last week about eyes and how sensitive they are. She said that you can get dirt on your skin, and it doesn’t bother you. However, you get a speck of dirt in your eye, and it hurts and is annoying!…Isn’t this the truth? The eye is a complicated organ with many parts. It lets you know when light is present and changes the direction of light rays as they pass through different parts of the eye. It lets us take in what’s around us, while sending messages to the brain, interpreting what we see. It’s full of nerves that also send messages to the brain, warning us when a contaminant shows up that wants to affect how we see or hurt the eye itself.

Does anyone else get annoyed when your eyes are dilated at the ophthalmologist’s office?!? Feeling rather blinded and ultra sensitive to light doesn’t feel very helpful to me. Sometimes I wonder why I willingly allow them to do that to me!

Photo by Will Malott on Unsplash

According to “the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’s Vision Atlas (a compilation of the very latest eye health data),…globally, there are 43 million people living with blindness and 295 million people living with moderate-to-severe visual impairment.”1 Over 76% of these people are living with avoidable blindness or impairment, because they have the inability to access the right help.

“As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed them. Two blind men were sitting by the road. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, ‘Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!’ The crowd scolded them to get them to be quiet, but they shouted even more loudly, ‘Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!’ Jesus stopped, called them, and said, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.”

Matthew 20:29-34 NETB

There are a number of things that stand out to me about this passage.

  • This account was toward the end of Jesus’ ministry; there is a very similar one listed earlier in Matthew 9:27-31, which was toward the beginning of it. Both times, Jesus responded to the cries of the blind who had faith in Him. Both times, He opened up their eyes. From beginning to end, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” (Heb. 13:8).
  • No matter what Jesus was facing at the time, He took time, heard them, and responded.
  • Luke 18:35-43 gives us a few more details about this encounter (though Luke’s account only talks about one of the blind men; see this article, if you want to look into that more: https://www.gotquestions.org/one-two-blind-men.html). At least one of the men was sitting by the road, asking for handouts. He was not only blind; he was poor and in need.
  • As soon as the blind men found out why there was a ruckus in the streets, they acted. They apparently knew who Jesus was…I mean, who He really was–the Messiah (shown by how they addressed Him as the Son of David) and Lord (master). It didn’t matter that people were scolding them to be quiet. They knew Who He was, believed what He was capable of, and knew He was the One Who could help them.
  • Their healing propelled them to move; they followed Him. They walked the same road, in the same direction.
Are you stagnant/unable to move forward? If so, are you looking for Christ and/or calling out to Him?
Do you believe in Who He is and His ability to help you?

“The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.”

Psalm 146 8 ESV

“Blind,” here, is like a film over the eyes, physically OR in a spiritual sense. It’s referring to those who are helpless or incapable; weak or disabled; friendless; or searching (either mentally or physically) with difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty.

Do you have a need today? It doesn’t have to be physical; it could be a film over your heart, thoughts you’re struggling with, or an emotional need.
What do you want Jesus to do for you? Have you asked Him for it, like the blind men did?

Posture is extremely important to the LORD, but I’m not talking sitting or standing up straight. It has a lot to do with humility, recognizing His ability, and accepting our inability. He has compassion for and chooses to raise up those who are stretched out on the ground, with their face down before Him, as well as those bowed down in more of an arched or curved position because of anxiety; pain; or sorrow due to loss, disappointment, unfortunate circumstance, limitation, illness, physical appearance, situation/event, or embarrassment/shame.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

“Love,” in this verse, means having an affection for, which can include showing physical expressions of affection. The LORD has an affection for those who are cleansed by Jesus’ blood and who turn to and do the right thing in the eyes of God; this includes not only what one does or says, but also the attitude in which it’s done/said.

My prayer is that today, each one of us: 1) recognizes that Christ is close, and we have access to Him, 2) cries out to Him in our inabilities, weakness, pain, and sorrow, 3) recognizes Who He is and HIS abilities, 4) asks for Him to open our eyes to see things clearly, and 5) won’t be content with being still, but will move toward Him, walk with Him, and follow Him!

1“GLOBAL BLINDNESS WAS SLOWING PRIOR TO PANDEMIC STUDY REVEALS.” Orbis, https://www.orbis.org/en/news/2021/new-global-blindness-data. Accessed 22 August 2021.

What are You Communicating?

I’ve been sitting with this for a couple weeks, now, and WOW! The LORD has given me a LOT to experience and observe!! In fact, one example is a statement, which was directly addressed to me! I’ve been known to tell my family and some friends, “If I’m doing that, I wanna know!” Well, someone whom I love deeply took me up on that and told me the truth in love. I did/do want to know…but it doesn’t take the sting out of being confronted with the truth that I hurt people and need to change!

Interrupting…That’s what I was called out on. Ugh!!

Years ago, I was a Technical Recruiter. My job was to find, recruit, screen, and submit the best qualified candidates for technology positions our clients had open, walk those chosen through the interview and hiring processes, and maintain contact with those who landed jobs throughout their employment. In order to execute the recruiting process as quickly as possible, I learned some not-so-great communication skills in order to get certain questions answered speedily. If someone got a bit long-winded, I learned to interject a question to efficiently lead them through the screening questions in order to see if they were right for the job. I was searching and listening for the answers I needed out of the conversation. It’s amazing how a little over three years of “listening” this way changed me for years to come! It socked me in the gut to learn that, 15 years later, I was still doing it…interjecting, finishing people’s sentences to keep things moving, and leading along the conversation to answer what I wanted or needed to hear. Sigh.

Photo by Max Harlynking on Unsplash

The LORD used this loving confrontation to speak to me about many voids in positive communication that we, probably, all have experienced at one point or another…and maybe even DO ourselves! Have you experienced or observed any of the following situations this week…or maybe even done a handful?

  1. Made it your turn to talk, because someone took a breath
  2. Talked over someone
  3. Walked into a room, talking
  4. Finished other people’s sentences, when they’re obviously not actively looking for a word
  5. Interjected your opinion before someone has had a chance to explain themselves to see where they’re coming from
  6. Didn’t hear what someone was saying, because you were thinking of what you’re going to say
  7. Missed something someone said, because you were distracted
  8. Said something without considering how what you said could be interpreted by or affect the one hearing
  9. Said something about someone you wouldn’t say, if they were standing in the room
  10. Spoke in a tone you’d be embarrassed about, if someone, like a neighbor, overheard
  11. Said you’d do something and didn’t follow through
  12. Made a conversation about you by sharing your story when someone finished talking, one-upping their story and not relating yours to theirs
  13. Engaged in some activity while someone’s talking, diverting your full attention

Different sayings related to positive communication have been spoken much, but have they been heard?…Listen first; then speak!… We have two ears and one mouth for a reason!

Someone Whom you love deeply (and Who loves YOU deeply enough to say it–God Himself) also has some things to say about communication!!

“When there are many words, transgression and offense [against individuals] are unavoidable, but he who controls his lips and keeps thoughtful silence is wise.”

Proverbs 10:19 AB

“The one who guards his mouth [thinking before he speaks] protects his life; the one who opens his lips wide [and chatters without thinking] comes to ruin.”

Proverbs 13:3 BSB

“A wise person’s heart controls his speech, and what he says helps others learn.”

Proverbs 16:23 GWT

“With his mouth, the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge and discernment the righteous will be rescued.”

Proverbs 11:9 AB

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Proverbs 12:18 ESV

“A soft and gentle and thoughtful answer turns away wrath, but harsh and painful and careless words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:1 AB

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge attractive, but the mouth of fools blurts out foolishness.”

Proverbs 15:2 CSB

“The heart of the righteous weighs answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes out evil.”

Proverbs 15:28 NHEB

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in disclosing what is on his mind.”

Proverbs 18:2 NETB

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.”

Proverbs 29:11 ESV

“Whoever gives an answer before he listens is stupid and shameful.”

Proverbs 18:13 GWT

“Do you see someone who speaks too soon? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

Proverbs 29:20 CSB

“The words of a gossip are swallowed greedily, and they go down into a person’s innermost being.”

Proverbs 18:8 GWT

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.”

Proverbs 18:21 AB

“If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 GWT

“But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes ‘ or ‘No, no;’ anything beyond these is of evil.”

Matthew 5:37 NASB 1995

“Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.”

Ephesians 4:29 BSB

“Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].”

Colossians 4:6 AB

“You know this, my dearly-loved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to be angry.

James 1:19 WNT

“My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.”

1 John 3:18 GNT
Is any of that a sock to your gut, too? I SO need an overhaul to my insides! Does the way you communicate need to change in any way, too?
Which verse(s) listed above hit(s) you where you are?
Jessica Da Rosa on Unsplash

As you engage in conversations today, think about what you’re communicating through your words, tone, facial expressions, body language, and listening (or lack thereof):

  • You’re uninterested or don’t care what the person talking to you has to say.
  • You’re right; they’re wrong.
  • You have more value.
  • You know more.
  • Someone is important to you and worth investing your time and attention.
Is the LORD stirring in your heart a verse about communication that’s not listed in this post? I’d love to hear what He’s communicating to you!

Is it Okay, if I Love My Red Pen?

I used to envy teachers. Not only did they get to write on a chalkboard or markerboard, but they got to correct papers (how naive was I?!?)! I’d see corrections in red on a paper or test and think they were beautiful…as long as they were on someone else’s paper or test!

Then came my freshman year of college. I wrote my first paper for my English class and felt pretty confident about it…until I received it back from the professor. I remember it like it was yesterday. There was red all over the first page, and the letter grade at the top (also in bright red) wasn’t anything close to what I was used to!! My heart sunk. Those red markings weren’t so beautiful on my paper! As I re-read the paper with the prof’s corrections, I began to see how the changes he made were making me and my writing better. I approached him with corrections I didn’t understand, and he explained why what I wrote wasn’t fitting. That paper gave me the opportunity to accept or reject criticism. If I accepted it as constructive, it would improve the way I wrote. If I dismissed it as he didn’t know what he was talking about with a, “Who does he think he is to touch my paper with his red pen?!?” response, I would’ve remained stagnant. I chose to accept the critiques.

Ask my parents, my kids, or my hubby! I LOVE me a red pen, even if it’s only in my head!! If I’m reading an article, a book, or a PowerPoint slide and find an error, I’m elated!! I homeschooled our kids for six years, and I relished the moments our daughter would come to me and say, “Mom!! I found a typo!!” She, too, had a discerning spirit…

Is that what I was breeding? A discerning spirit…or a critical one? I was always looking for ways to make something better or “right,” but I realized that my standard, oftentimes, was my own…the way I would do it.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Have you ever taught a child how to do a job around the house? I’d explain, as I showed them how to complete it; they’d forget or be in a hurry; I’d come back to check it when they were “done,” and things weren’t executed the way I’d shown them. I began to see how corrections could be destructive or instructive; a lot (not all) depended on the heart of the one hearing and if he or she wanted to learn. Nitpicking when they were close didn’t encourage them, and letting something go wasn’t teaching them. For me, this was a tightrope line to walk…and it still is, as I seek to bring an awareness to how they work, they’re motive for getting the job done, and Who they’re working for, while also seeing the way they’re wired and accepting their best.

Here are some verses that check my heart in these situations to see if my invisible red pen is active to instruct or destruct:

“I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV

15“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, 16from Whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow, so that it builds itself up in love.”

Ephesians 4:15-16 ESV

“The good person, out of the good treasure of his heart, produces good, and the evil person, out of his evil treasure, produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart, his mouth speaks.”

Luke 6:45 ESV

These verses help me ask some hard questions about myself, taking the red pen to my life first. It’s not only worth assessing to grow my relationship with my kids; it’s also important for their relationship with work and others! Needless to say, I need to ask these questions when it comes to my interactions with others, as well!

  • Is my heart prideful? If yes, am I demonstrating that in my words and facial expressions?
  • Am I possessing an attitude that is focused on the goal of the task or conversation OR the task or word(s) spoken itself?
  • Am I fully applying myself in guarding unity (joining together, rather than separating) by allowing God’s Spirit to move me?
  • Are my expectations set on God’s standard or mine?
  • Do I take into consideration how God made the other individual involved?
  • Are my responses good or evil? What does that tell me about where I place the value of things in my heart?

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to pursue what You have for me, making the corrections in me that You see need to be made (’cause there are many)! Thank you for the love and patience with which You instruct me! Please keep reminding me of these questions, so I can demonstrate Your heart better to anyone I come in contact with! Amen.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash