Day 15 - Relating in Goodness
“Do not use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
Ephesians 4: 29
Meditate or Reflect
So many of our communal spaces have become hostile grounds where language is careless, hurtful, reactive, and abusive; certainly, in the political arena, social media, also at work and in schools, at home, and even among Christians harshly defending theological differences. Name-calling, shaming rhetoric, aggressive speech to tear others down, vulgar language – it seems to be everywhere. The words coming from our culture often are not good. One of our primary focuses in relationship must be the care of each other’s soul, including the language we use. Sarcasm, unkind nicknames, course language, abusive and intimidating language is neither good nor helpful. Instead, we should be intentional about the words we use as a good encouragement to those who hear them. Take a breath and think of areas in your life where you have given or received good and encouraging words. Are there any situations or relationships where goodness is a challenge? Reflect on the goodness of God and let His goodness be a guide. Recall to your mind the many ways God speaks goodness over you – calling you redeemed, beloved, friend.
Thoughts and Behaviors
Turn to your thoughts and behaviors. Are your thoughts and behaviors directed toward what’s good, or easily caught up in abusive language (tearing others down)? Consider the verse from Ephesians 4: 29 and reflect on these questions with the Spirit’s help:
Flourishing and Protecting
There are good words and then there is the Good Word. The Good Word of the scriptures speaks of God’s love for us, His patience with us, and our redemption through Jesus. Love, patience, redemption. If we receive the goodness of God in our hearts, we let His goodness be our guide for how we care for others and ourselves. However, if you find yourself or someone you care about in relationship with someone who is verbally abusive, it is imperative to get help: invite someone else into the conversation – a counselor, an impartial friend, a trusted advisor, or seek safe shelter away from the abuser. We can hope and pray for change, but if change isn’t happening, then it may be time to create boundaries for protection. Also, search your heart, mind, and soul to see where you may be harsh, critical, foul, or abusive with your words, and make any changes that could improve your part in a relationship.
To have goodness in relationship means to be morally honorable, beneficial for another, and pleasing to God. Striving for goodness often means putting the needs of others before self, and doing good deeds. Goodness flourishes when we speak encouraging words. Take a breath and reflect on the goodness of God– He is perfect, and He is for you– meet Him in this moment. Also, express your gratitude for the relationships where you experience goodness in word and deed, and pray for those who struggle to be good and encouraging with their words.
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Amy Fleming, MA, LPC