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April 09, 2008

how do i speak?

I'm doing a little studying this week about sibling/family relationships in the Bible. I set out to prepare a lesson for others, but the sword has divided my own heart also. I thought I'd share something I noticed about speech in the account of Joseph in Genesis:
  • Joseph's brothers "could not speak peaceably to him" (Genesis 37:4). This is recorded near the beginning of Joseph's story.
  • In spite of all his brothers did to him, near the end of Joseph's story he "comforted [his brothers] and spoke kindly to them"(50:21).
Joseph is a living testimony to the message of the book of James. Perhaps in early days he didn't use his tongue so wisely (when he aggravated his brothers by telling his dreams, Genesis 37), but at some point God taught him about the power of the tongue. Joseph's kind speech in return for unkind speech/deeds was only possibly because Joseph viewed his situation from the Lord's viewpoint (45:5, 9). This is how James teaches us to see our trials (chapter 1). Joseph had also learned the power of harnessing the tongue for good (James 3). Specifically, the tongue has enormous power to make or break our family relationships (or relationships with the people with whom we spend a lot of time). Our everyday talk seems unimportant, but (like a ship's rudder) it directs the course of our entire lives.
"Because our communication leargely takes place in the inconsequential moments of everyday life, it is easy to underestimate its significance... What sets the course of a person's life are the ways he responds to the little moments...Every day, your words give your relationships their tone." (Tripp/Lane, Relationships: A Mess Worth Making, p69)
What kind of a tone am I setting with each word?
Negative? (envying, seeking what's best for me, boasting,
lying, criticizing,
gossiping, complaining, nagging)
Or positive? (showing purity, peaceableness, gentleness, willingness to yield,
mercy, impartiality, sincerity, graciousness, kindness, thankfulness, prayerfulness)

It is much easier to see the negative effects of the speech of people around me (coworkers, acquaintances, family, friends) than to see the negative effects of my own talk. How I need the Lord...


  1. That was supposed to say, Suzanne!

  2. Thanks for sharing. This is certainly an important study - how difficult it is to tame our tongues. It is no wonder why the Bible speaks much about our speech. I must remind myself of the verse that says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov. 15:1)

  3. Thanks for the comment. The Bible says SO much about speech, it is such a huge problem for us sinners.