Communication is much more than words exchanged between two people. The way we communicate is just as significant as the words that we speak. Paul makes a point to remind the church at Ephesus of this truth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29 KJV)
What would corrupt communication be? It is anything that doesn’t edify, build up, or strengthen the faith of the listener. An even better definition is found a few verses prior.
…speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:15 KJV)
Paul points out two things to consider. When we communicate, we must speak the truth, and we must speak from a place of love. When we don’t speak truth, our message has been corrupted by misinformation, lies, or deception. If we communicate truth from any place but love, the meaning behind our message has been corrupted. In fact, without love, the truth we are attempting to communicate has actually become a weapon.
These two elements—truth and love—must come together if we want to keep our communication free from corruption.
Stay Close to Truth
Too many of us keep ourselves separated from truth. It’s usually not a deliberate misrepresentation of truth for a devious purpose. It’s more a shading of the truth to make our own selves look a little better. White lies seem so innocent on the outside, but they provide a foundation for bigger, more inappropriate mistruths that begin falling in the category of manipulation.
You never want to manipulate or attempt to control somebody else’s response to you. It could even be encouragement or exhortation that you’re giving to someone—but if you do it so you can exact something from them, you’ve abused and corrupted communication.
God’s love is unconditional. In order to mirror His unconditional love, the things you do in somebody else’s life to communicate truth and love cannot be done in order to obligate them to you so they’ll do something for you.
I used to marvel when I listened to two people in marriage counseling sitting there gaming each other. They always pointed fingers and attempted to one-up the other person. They’d say, “They’re not doing something they ought to be doing for me!” They didn’t understand one of the most basic concepts of a relationship based on godly love: it’s not about what he or she is or isn’t doing for you. It’s about what you’re doing for them.
Over the years, I’ve seen this same attitude of gaming each other prevalent in both workplace relationships and schools. I’ve even seen it in churches. I wonder if he meant that; if he did, I should tell him this! … I wonder if I should say it this way and maybe put a little leverage on her. It’s frustrating not being able to know if somebody’s telling you something straight or if you have to figure out how to read between the lines.
We must always remember that intimidating someone else to get what you want or manipulating to exact something from someone else to meet our personal agenda should never be found in our lives. We must learn instead how to impart truth.
What Truth Is
Truth, of course, begins with the Word of God. We minister truth to others any time we speak the principle of God’s Word into their lives. This doesn’t mean you need to abruptly interrupt conversations with “Thus saith the Lord,” but you can in casual conversation season your words in a way that imparts truth from the Word of God.
When you influence people in this way, you’re not interested in imparting anything else. Certainly you’ll have casual conversation about going to the store or making daily plans, but in terms of interacting with other people, there will be occasions when you can plant truth in their lives—and do it in a way they can receive it. That means you speak the truth in love.
The Cushion for Truth
How do you relate to somebody in a loving way so they’re open to what you have to say? Paul tells us the answer in 1 Corinthians 13, a chapter with which you’re probably very familiar.
Love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. (vv. 4–8 Amp.)
When you want to communicate truth to someone, you do it in love. You’re not suspicious of them. You believe the best and hope the best. You want to see this person get blessed.
This isn’t easy for a lot of people. Too many people are in competition with everyone else. They’ve envious of someone else’s blessing. They wish they were getting blessed instead of being happy for the other person’s advancement. Love is always genuinely interested in seeing other people blessed.
Always Speak From Love
So when you communicate out of a place of love, let your communication be without dissimilation, have no games in mind, and avoid manipulation and intimidation like the plague! That means you shouldn’t attempt to control somebody else’s decision. This is especially true for you as a parent. It’s tempting to want to control where your children go, who they go with, what they do, etc. When young people become old enough to be responsible for their own decisions, you need to let them make mistakes. Be a resource to them to the extent they will allow you to be, but don’t try to control them.
Employers and leaders, don’t attempt to control what your employees do. Trust God has brought them to you, and then allow Him to work through them to accomplish the job they have been sent to do. As a leader, you are a resource to their success. Help them succeed and the organization will succeed.
This is what love does: it communicates truth from a place of love and a genuine desire to see the other person succeed. If you don’t see these tendencies in your life, head over to the Word and get a picture of yourself obeying God’s command to love. See yourself as the person of love God created you to be and the Bible says that you are. That’s when love will find its place in your life and you’ll see further success in your relationships.