I have a confession to make.
You see, i got married in November, which is essential to understanding this confession:
I love romantic movies.
There, i said it. Now allow me to explain why this is important.
Until recently, my preferred movie genre was from the category i referred to as “Dude Movies.” In fact, i had created a whole list–in chronological order–of “Epic War Movies.” And then, i met my wife, and i was introduced to the romance genre.
To be fair, when asked by previous love interests if i’d seen movies like The Notebook, my response was always the same. “I’ll watch romance movies when i have someone worth watching them with.” So, at this point, i’ve been watching them regularly for almost a year now.
Now you might not understand just how much i love these kinds of movies. You can even ask my wife:
I yell at the screen and get visibly upset when things aren’t going well between the characters.
This leads to the topic for today’s post.
What is always the source of tension in a romance movie that propels the plot along?
Lack of communication.
The fact of the matter is that communication is essential for any successful, healthy relationship. In romance movies, if people would merely talk–instead of assuming motives–most of their problems could be avoided. In your relationships with others, if you would just talk–and do your best to properly understand the other–your relationships would deepen exponentially. In your relationship with God, communication (prayer) is indispensable.
I’m currently in a seminary class called Intercultural Communication, which is focused on rightly understanding other cultures so that our evangelistic efforts don’t do more harm than good for the cause of Christ. However, one of the main takeaways i’ve gotten from this class is the absolute importance of good communication skills no matter who you are talking to.
Whether you’re talking to a Somali Muslim overseas or a person of your ethnicity and creed at church, good communication skills are essential. One primary key is that the most important person in any communication event is the person receiving the communication (receptor). You need to know your receptor well to most efficiently communicate with him/her. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how well you said something; what matters is whether you said it in a way that allowed the person hearing to understand it. If they didn’t–or if they misinterpreted it–it is the fault of the person sending the communication (sender); it is not the receptor’s fault.
There is a biblical basis for this truth as well. The New Testament was written when the Roman Empire was flourishing. As such, Latin was the language of the elite. However, Greek was the common tongue, and most individuals in the Roman Empire knew Greek. What language did God determine that the New Testament be written in? Greek. He met His receptors where they were at and communicated to them similarly.
On the other side, if we want to pray well to God, we need to know God better. We should make it our daily goal to know God better by the end of today than we did yesterday. This will go a long way to improving our prayer life. However, at the same time–God is eternal, and we are finite–we will never fully understand God. As such, our communication with Him will never totally do justice to who He is. But there’s still hope! Romans 8:26 says:
In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings.
This doesn’t excuse us from trying to better know God. Instead, it encourages us to know that there is always grace. As such, when we are the receptors of other’s messages, we must be quick to offer grace and do our best to properly understand their meaning as well. We must never jump to conclusions–even though others might very well do that when we are the senders. Let’s be gracious communicators!
James 1:19 explains,
My dearly loved brothers, understand this: Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
This is the way to be better communicators. Listen carefully, don’t insist on being the sender all the time, and be gracious as you listen.
Be quick to listen. This is key. As communicators (we are all communicators, whether “senders” or “receivers”), we must make it a point to listen more than we speak. We must not be thinking about our perfect comeback when we are talking to someone. We must not be thinking about the next path discussion topic when we are talking to someone. And we must not be thinking about our own plans for the evening when we are talking to someone. We must lean in to what they have to say and refuse to be quick to exit.
Be slow to speak. The quicker we are at listening, the slower we will be to speak. This does not mean that we refuse to talk! Instead, it means that when we talk, we have considered everything the other person is saying, and we refuse to let what they said anger us (see next paragraph). It means that we speak in ways that are helpful–not sarcastic or pointed. Again, the better we are at listening, the more biblical we will be at speaking.
Be slow to become angry. This goes back to remembering how God responds to our communication with Him through prayer. He offers grace. We must offer grace to others also. We must be so slow to speak that if anger is rising inside us, we would prefer to remain silent than risk venting that anger. The more focused we are on listening, the less likely we will be to lash out in anger.
When it comes to our prayer life, we should put this into practice as well. Part of prayer is listening. The more we insist on babbling in our prayers, the more likely we will be quick to speak to others. We must slow down–listening either to the Word open in front of us as we pray or to the Spirit whispering truth and guidance into our souls. (The latter happens because of prior occasions being saturated in the Word.) Who we are in private, we will reveal in public. If we are quick to listen to God in prayer, we will be more likely to be quick to listen to others.
Let’s be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. If we can do this, our communication will be wise, like Solomon counseled:
A word spoken at the right timeProverbs 25:11
is like gold apples on a silver tray.
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
Thanks for reading.