Paul, in the Romans 12, speaks of being distinct and separate from the world, and our attitude plays a role in this differentiation. One element of our attitude is reflected in how we speak to each other – reflecting the humility we are supposed to possess. Paul returns to the attitudes and motivations behind our actions, treating those factors as every bit as important as the actions themselves. We should be careful how we come across to others in attitude, action, and speech. Humility should underscore all of these – true humility, not feigned artificial forms of humility.
Our Speech Reflecting Ourselves
In Ephesians 4:15, Paul instructs us speak the truth in Christ, but how we speak that truth is important as the speaking. Colossians 4:6 reminds us to speak with grace, as seasoned with salt. That is, our manner of speech should be in such a way that what we have to say is easier to swallow. Our speech should always be gracious. Our speech should reflect humility.
II Corinthians 10:1 continues this theme of humility. Paul appeals to his readers, calling them to him for instruction. His manner again demonstrates graciousness and humility. Galatians 6:1 speaks of restoring sinners in a spirit of gentleness or meekness. This is not an attitude of forcefulness or self-righteousness. Rather we should be fair and kind. Hebrews 12:13-13 calls us to heal and restore one in error – not defeat him or her.
II Timothy 2:24-25 calls on us to correct those who oppose God’s word, but we are to do this patiently, avoiding a combative attitude. II Timothy 4:2 speaks of reproving, rebuking, and exhorting, and this must be done with all long-suffering – returning again to the idea of patience. I Peter 3:15 tells us to be continually ready to give an answer for the hope within us, but we should do this in humility and recognition of the individual’s value. This is not something in which to engage with a flippant attitude.
Returning to Ephesians 4:15, our speaking truth should be done in love. We have read passage after passage that emphasizes a specific attitude that should pervade our speech and the discussions we engage in. We may win an argument but lose a soul. This is not softening the truth, but it is a quality that compels others to desire further discussion. We inspire curiosity among others, and we draw them to God with our words rather than drive them off with a false sense of self-justification. Again, we should teach, but our attitude and our reasons for our actions will be reflected in how we fulfill that command. Do we reflect love and humility?
lesson by Tim Smelser