Seven Communication Skills for Every Christian
Christian Provokes Unbeliever
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One day Christian was talking with his unbelieving sister named Unbeliever. Christian told her he received a stimulus check from the government, but he did not need it, and considered it a waste. She became very angry and started talking about politics, which she cared about deeply. She loved the President of America. As they discussed politics, Christian lost his temper and called Unbeliever some names. He kind of regretted his unkind words, but excused them because he only told Unbeliever the truth. He could not imagine that he had provoked Unbeliever to anger by telling her the truth. Even after a friend explained that Christian had provoked Unbeliever and seriously damaged Christian’s relationship with Unbeliever, Christian claimed Unbeliever was only upset because Christian lived for Jesus and she hated Jesus. Christian was completely oblivious to the fact that he provoked Unbeliever, then compounded the problem by exploding in anger as they discussed politics. You may be oblivious to how your communications provoke people. While you may claim to love your family, they will listen to your words to see if you love them. They will also watch your actions. Seven communication skills can help you live more like Jesus and show people that you love them.
Jesus and Religious Hypocrites
One day some Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and asked Him why His disciples broke the tradition of the elders and ate food without washing their hands. Jesus replied: “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandments of God for the sake of your tradition?” Jesus then explained that God commanded people to honor their fathers and mothers, but the Pharisees dishonored parents by depriving them of needed financial support. Jesus called them hypocrites and people who invalidate the commandment of God by their traditions. Jesus concluded by saying that it is not what enters the mouth that defiles a man, but what proceeds out of the mouth that defiles a man. His disciples came and said to Him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” Jesus replied “Every plant which my heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:1-14). We can learn valuable communication skills from Jesus and the way He talked with people.
Communication Skill One
Listen to the Question
Jesus listened carefully to the question from the Pharisees and Sadducees. He did not choose the topic of conversation, but used the question from unbelievers to teach everyone the truth. Questions from unbelievers often provide excellent opportunities to talk about a topic of interest to them. Of course, the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted to accuse Jesus and had evil motives behind their question. If you do not listen to their question, you will not engage them on a topic they chose.
Christian did not wait for Unbeliever to ask a question, but charged forward sharing his opinions about politics. Instead of talking about political opinions with unbelievers, Christians should be sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers. Unbelievers cannot understand any spiritual thing but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because spiritual matters only make sense to believers. Unsaved people lack the spiritual capacity to understand spiritual things. When unbelievers ask questions like, “Did you receive your stimulus check?” you may find a way to talk about spiritual things. You may want to share with unbelievers how Jesus provides for you in many ways, emphasizing the free gift of salvation, the ultimate free gift of eternal life.
Communication Skill Two
Do You Know?
Jesus knew exactly the effect that His words would have upon the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the entire audience listening to Him. He wanted all of them to know that the Pharisees and Sadducees were hypocrites for invalidating the commandments of God by their traditions. He knew He was provoking them by the topic of conversation and the words He used. But remember that Jesus answered their question. They brought up the topic of conversation. He called them hypocrites so that everyone would see that they said they loved the commandments of God, but by following the traditions of men, they invalidated the commandment of God, and so were hypocrites.
Jesus understood His audience and chose His topics and words well. He was not surprised by people being offended by His answer to the question and His strong words. His disciples had to get used to people becoming offended by the truths He told them, even calling them hypocrites to their faces. Yet, provoking people without good spiritual reasons leads to broken relationships over nothing of spiritual importance.
In the example above, Christian did not consider that telling Unbeliever his political opinions would provoke instant anger and send both of them into a heated argument. Christian had never considered that some people react to words and subjects with intense feelings. Furthermore, Christian was too immature spiritually to consider that both the topic of conversation and the words used would likely send both Christian and Unbeliever spiraling out of emotional control. He knew that Unbeliever had strong feelings about politics, and had argued politics with her in the past. Christian lit the fuse to the emotional dynamite and wondered why things had exploded so quickly.
Communication Skill Three
Share Bible Verses, Not Personal Opinions
Jesus quoted the Bible as authority for His answer to the question from the Pharisees and Sadducees. Of course, as God in the flesh, He had complete authority to proclaim the truth. Jesus explained the spiritual truth from the Bible that eating with unclean hands does not defile a man. Breaking the commandments of God defiles a man. Jesus gave two examples from the Bible. First, Jesus quoted the verse, “Honor your father and mother.” He then explained how the Pharisees and Sadducees violated that commandment with their traditions. Second, Jesus quoted the verse, “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” Jesus then explained that they teach as doctrines the precepts of men.
Jesus did not train His disciples to answer questions from unbelievers by sharing their personal opinions. Jesus trained them to quote the Bible and explain how God answered their question. When Christians share their opinions about things, and avoid the Bible, they often ignite useless controversy and damage relationships. Clashing opinions only highlight divisions and damage relationships.
Christian shared his opinion about stimulus checks and politics without thinking like Jesus. If you love your family members, then share the Scriptures with them when they ask you questions. Let them know that your personal opinions really do not matter. What Jesus said makes all the difference. Your opinions count for nothing and only provoke some of your family members.
Communication Skill Four
Avoid Jamming Verses Down the Throats of Unbelievers
Trust the Holy Spirit to give you the Bible passage and the loving words to say to unbelievers. Avoid your personal opinions, or your personal interpretations of Scripture. Be sure the passage you choose will be clear to anyone. While only believers can grasp the spiritual truth of the Bible, God can use Bible verses to convict people of sin and lead them to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus chose His words before speaking them. He knew the best Bible verses to share to make His points. He explained the verses because they were obviously related to the question of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Christian did not consider his words to Unbeliever before he spoke them. He gave his opinion about stimulus checks without proper consideration. The chief consideration is that Unbeliever is going to eternity in the Lake of Fire and the wrath of God abides upon her right now. Every word Christian speaks to her should be based upon a loving invitation to accept the free gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ by faith today. Choose every word with that goal in mind. Choose every topic of conversation with that goal in mind. Never lose your temper or go to places where your temper may cause you to sin. Never unwittingly light the fuse to the emotional dynamite.
Communication Skill Five
Consider Your Audience
Jesus answered the question of very religious men who basked in their self-righteousness. They were positive they kept the Law of God and so had favor with God. By their own works of righteousness, they imagined they were acceptable to God. They trusted in their traditions, the opinions of men, and judged themselves by the traditions of men. Jesus knew that they were self-righteous, trusting in their own righteousness supposedly derived from the law of Moses. Because Jesus knew His audience, He proved to them from the Bible that they were actually breaking the law by keeping with their traditions. They did not know God and knew nothing about the righteousness of God by faith. If they had known the God of the Old Testament, they would have known Jesus. If they had loved the God of the Old Testament, then they would have loved Jesus.
Christian knew that Unbeliever had strong political opinions. Christian also knew that Unbeliever held her views with great passion. Even so, Christian shared his political opinion without considering his audience of one, Unbeliever. Christian had already established a very adverse relationship with Unbeliever, and they argued frequently over many things. Christian always blamed the arguments on the fact that he was a believer and she was an unbeliever. Christian never considered how his words and actions affected his relationship with Unbeliever.
Communication Skill Six
Do Not Blame Jesus for Your Sins
Jesus carefully shared the Scriptures concerning sin. He lovingly showed that the Pharisees and Sadducees followed the traditions of men, and thereby violated the commandments of God. While they claimed to follow the Bible, they actually invalidated the Bible with their traditions. Jesus confronted them with the truth of Scripture and explained their own hypocrisy. Jesus perfectly presented the truth that disobeying God’s word by following tradition means that they were saying one thing and doing the opposite. They were hypocrites. Everyone could see it by the way that Jesus linked specific verses to their own traditions. Jesus did not blame the Pharisees and Sadducees for anything, except their own sinful hypocrisy. He exposed their sin and encouraged them to seek peace with God. They were blind men leading other blind men into the pit of destruction. He offered the light of truth and eyes to see. The disciples saw that the Pharisees and Sadducees were offended by the words of Jesus, but they had to learn that you have to use the Scriptures to confront the self-righteous and encourage them to believe in Jesus.
Christian blamed God for all his sinful communications. Christian had already defined his relationship with Unbeliever as only and always adversarial. She was the enemy and she hated Jesus and he hated her for hating him and Jesus. Therefore, whenever he blew up in anger, lost his temper, and spewed forth sinful words in anger, he justified himself by saying he just told the truth and she hates Jesus so she hates him. Christian completely missed the fact that his words, his anger, and his lack of love for Unbeliever caused him to lash out in anger when they disagreed about politics and personal opinions. Jesus played no role in their argument that day, but Christian still blamed Jesus for all his communication sins. It was a handy excuse, but that excuse only promoted further sin and split the relationship further apart.
Communication Skill Seven
The disciples came to Jesus later and asked Him to explain the parable to them. He told them that everything goes into the mouth and then into the stomach and then is eliminated; those things entering the mouth do not defile a man. The things that come out of the mouth defile a man. Words really matter. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. Those things defile the man, not eating with unwashed hands. Jesus took the time to explain what He meant to the disciples. They had no more questions about why He offended the religious leaders.
Christian never considered that the way he talks with Unbeliever reflects a pattern of the way he talks to other people, including other Christians. When we constantly tell people our opinions and pass judgments upon others not found in the Bible, then we create bad relationships and damage relationships. When we share our opinions with unbelievers, we forget that unbelievers cannot understand any spiritual thing except the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must train disciples to speak like Jesus, love like Jesus, and give careful answers from the Bible, not our personal opinions. We must avoid useless arguments and lighting the fuse to emotional dynamite. The blast that ensues harms relationships and our testimony for Christ. Do not misunderstand. Jesus frequently made people very angry with His words and actions, but He always acted perfectly and taught many people why He acted according to the will of God. When people got angry with Jesus, He knew they would, but followed God’s will without bowing to emotional pressure to keep the peace at any cost. Jesus did not come to judge people, because they had been judged already. They hated the Light (Jesus), because their deeds were evil. Jesus shone in the darkness, and His own did not receive Him or comprehend His message of love, repentance for sin, and saving faith in Him. He laid down His life for all of us, so that we might live forever in Him.
Words matter. Relationships matter. As believers, we must choose our topics of conversation carefully. We must answer like Jesus, without fear of offending people. Yet, His goal was never to offend people and leave them, but to bring them to repentance and salvation. Jesus was the friend of sinners and loved everyone. We must avoid the errors of communication that separate us from talking like Jesus. We can trust Him to give us the words to speak, building up believers and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unbelievers. They will know us by our love and our words and actions. They all count for eternity. As we follow Jesus and talk like Jesus with His love and wisdom, then we will accomplish the work God has given each of us to do each day.