- A soft, gentle, sensitive, kind, or mild,
- answer, response, or reply
- turns away, deflects, quiets, defuses, soothes, turns back
- anger, wrath, or fury.
- Gentle, kind, wholesome, or soothing speech, or words
- are or is, a tree of life (heal and help, cause life and health);
- a deceitful tongue, cutting words, dishonest talk, perverseness therein, immoderate, wild words, griping, or tongue undisciplined
- crushes the spirit, wounds and maims, breaks the spirit, is a breach or breaking of the spirit, brings discouragement, or can break hearts.
How To Speak
Have you ever said something that made it worse? Have you ever said something that was true, but it was not received well, as in, saying the right thing, but the wrong way? Have you ever done a, 'tit-for-tat', and felt empty afterwards?
We generally have a, 'failure to communicate', when we anger or hurt others with our words. The Bible has a lot to say about how we talk to one another. We generally tend to talk too much and listen too little and we all need to grow in how we use words.
Part of life is confrontation. When you notice bright red and blue lights flashing on top of the car behind you, you are being confronted by an authority, and it is a bad feeling for most people. Confronting someone, especially someone you love, does not have to be like that.
Caring Enough To Confront: Care-fronting
Confrontation should be a normal part of relationships that does not devastate them. There is a kind, gentle, and nurturing way to confront. David Augsberger calls it care-fronting, as in caring enough to confront. David writes about a healthy way to care enough about the relationship and the other person, and mediate through differences.
The wrong ways of doing conflict are avoidance or destructiveness. There is a better way. That is what Augsberger calls, to care enough to confront. Consider reading that book. I highly recommend it!
It is a given that if people do anything together, there will eventually be conflict, disagreement, or misunderstanding. There is a song, that says, "there ain't no good guys, there ain't bad guys. There's just you and me and we both disagree." We have a disagreement between us. That's the issue. To frame it in, "you are bad, I am good", is not helpful. It is a we thing. We have a disagreement.
I love the analogy or picture of the fact that if you point or wag a pointing finger at someone in judgement, you have three fingers pointing back at you. We want to be humble in how we deal with others, in grace and love.
So this all comes back to the wisdom, reflected in the scriptures above, to be careful how you speak; when you disagree, confront, or speak discipline. Discipline means learning, a disciple is a learner, and disciplinary action is a learning experience, ultimately from the Lord, that sometimes comes through people.
Life Giving Conversation
There is a way to speak a word of disagreement, confrontation, or rebuke; that has life in it. The title of this post might imply that I am talking about 'sugar coating' the bad news, that you might need to tell someone. 'Sugar coating', to me, implies deception and confusion. 'Sugar coating', is when you coat something you don't want with something you do, and get a nasty surprise.
Sweeten Your Speech
Adding sugar, to me, means to speak kindly, humbly, and gently. The sugar, or healing life of Christ, permeates your words and the way to say them. The non-verbal portion is actually a very large part of the message you transmit. Christ and his grace, kindness, gentleness, and humility; is healing and life giving. The bad news from him, is delivered in a way that offers truth and life in a way of no compromise, but also as an invitation to deeper relationship.
We need to add sugar to our conversations, as in grace, kindness, and humility; when we disagree or when another is fuming or upset about something, even upset with us personally. How can I edify you or build you up when there is a problem between us? The Spirit wants to teach us the Jesus way of doing conflict, of responding to it and of confronting, if need be.
The Goal is Christ
Jesus is not confrontation avoidant, but he also is not trying to fix people or shame them. He wants to save people, transform them, renew, and revive them. These are different from fixing and shaming. Jesus was not and is not codependent. Codependency is controlling and enabling, which is not Jesus' way.
The goal for all of us is Christ, and Christ is Lord of us all, while we are brothers and sisters. The main thing for me, is Christ. Christ gives me love for you, where you are at.
We want to have the heart that Daniel had. When he gave the king the interpretation of a dream of judgement, Daniel was filled with compassion and said, "my lord, if only the dream applied to your enemies, and its meaning to your adversaries" (Daniel 4:19). Then Daniel, went on to deliver the hard word of disciplinary action from God, to Nebuchadnezzar, that also contained hope and prophetic counsel (Daniel 4:20-7).
Out of our hearts, our mouths speak. Christ is transforming our lives, from the inside, out. My words, even when there is conflict or disagreement or confrontation, will be sweetened (not sugar coated) by the presence of Jesus Christ in my life. I think that is good news and gives hope to the anticipation of any challenging conversation.
CEB=Common English Bible, NJHB=New Jerusalem Holy Bible, CEV=Complimentary English Version, MSG=The Message, CJHB=Complete Jewish Holy Bible, JPS=Jewish Publication Society, AAT=An American Translation (Smith & Goodspeed), Taylor=The Living Bible, Knox=R. Knox