We humans are people of words. God designed us to be that way. But as valuable as words are, the Bible tells us there is something beyond our words that must not be missed. Our words, our spirit, our actions, our faith must all point to a common life-giving thread: our relationships. Relationships are not sustained primarily through our words, they are sustained by the power God’s Spirit. The most important relationship is the one that makes all others possible. Knowing Jesus Christ is the one relationship that matters above all else.
James teaches us how destructive words can be (James 3:2-12). Insensitive words are like sparks that can ignite a roaring fire. If your words have been hurtful to others simply saying more words won’t help. But love will.
Here is how the Holy Spirit describes love.
Love does not:
envy or boast,
become easily angered,
keep a record of wrongs.
This description in 1 Corinthians 13 has little to do with words, but much to do with actions. Relationships are built with love.
Unhelpful words are indicators of an unloving spirit. Your words may say you are loving, your intentions may tell you that you are loving, but it is your actions that are the true indication of love. It is not a matter of feeling love but of doing love.
When our words have made life difficult it is not more words that will bring peace. Peace comes from a heart of love. It is a commitment to love as God commands that will cause your words to once again bring hope rather than hurt.
Listening well is an important step in knowing how to love. Too often, we listen to know what to speak. But God would have you listen to know how to love. Let me repeat that. Listen to love, not to talk. Listen to hear what is troubling the heart of your spouse. Listen to hear the fears and disappointments of your children. Then when you have listened, ponder how you bring love based on what you have heard.
Instead of telling your child that he should have a better attitude spend some time with him doing something that will encourage him. Win his heart with love by showing him that what is important to him is important to you.
Instead of defending yourself to your spouse consider how you can show gratitude for him or her by loving actions. Do something that helps ease her daily burden, even and especially if it requires sacrifice on your part.
Deploy love instead of defenses, or explanations, or justifications. Invest the time to learn how to love. Spend time praying that God will give you the grace and discernment to love.
When words won’t work, love is the answer.
This post originally appeared on Shepherd Press and was republished with permission.