Let me describe for you a typical scene of family conversation. The father and his favorite son are having a private meeting. The other family members are not included. They are talking about some things that they are intending to do and some plans they are making between one another.
The mother is eavesdropping on the conversation. What she hears is not satisfactory to her at all. So she gathers in her favorite son, the other one, and tells him what's going on between dad and the other boy. They devise a plot so that they can override what the father and that son are doing.
In the course of the affair, the mother’s favorite son deceives the father’s favorite son and steals his inheritance. The one son finds that his inheritance has been stolen. He is filled with anger and outrage about the matter; and he has made the threat that just as soon as the old man dies, he's going to kill his brother. The mother realizes they have a serious situation on their hands and so she sends her boy away. She says, “When this thing calms down a little bit, I'll send for you.” The truth of the matter is that she never saw that boy again.
Am I describing a family conversation that may have taken place in your home? The truth of the matter is I am not. Actually I am describing to you a scene which took place 3,000 years ago, and it is recorded for us in the Bible. The family is the family of Isaac and Rebekah and their twin sons, Esau and Jacob. But it is an illustration of a typical family conversation.
Communication in the family is necessary for the family to grow and survive.
Communication involves this process. You actually say something and you know what you think you are saying when you say what you say. Then, others who are listening to you hear what you say, but they may hear what you say in a different way than you intended for it to be heard. Then the people who hear you, they respond to you on the basis of what they thought they heard you say, and how they felt about what they thought you were saying. Then you hear what they said, but you may not know exactly what they meant when they said what they said, but you think maybe you do and so you respond to what you think maybe they said.
Are you confused? That is exactly how confusing this whole matter of communication and talking in family can really be.
There are two ingredients that are needed to help a family survive and get along.
Glue and Oil
The glue is the commitment that holds the family together!
The oil is the communication and conversation that keeps things running smoothly!
When surveys are made about marriages that do not make it, 86% of those surveys reported that there was a breakdown in communication. Most people simply do not know how to communicate!
So often when a couple is engaged and getting ready to get married, one of the main things which they seem to have with one another is the ability to talk and communicate. You will hear these engaged couples talking like this. “We just love to be together. We just stay up late at night talking, and I just feel so free and open with him (or her). It's just marvelous. We are soul mates. We connect with one another.”
Then when difficulties come and unfortunately when marriages do not make it, you begin to hear things like this. “We just didn't understand one another. We just didn't talk with one another anymore. Somehow we just couldn't seem to talk to one another anymore.”
So there is something that happens in marriages that sabotages the whole matter of communication and sometimes there is something that happens in families which hinders families from communicating with one another they way they want to.
There are many kinds of communication.
· There is the communication of time. When you spend time with a person, you are communicating concern and care and interest in them.
· There is the communication of gifts. When you give somebody something, you are communicating with them.
· There is the communication of touch. When you touch someone you are communicating with them.
But I'm thinking primarily today in terms of communicating with words. When you read what these verses have to say about words and the importance of communicating by words, you learn some crucial principles about how to have a family talk.
When was the last time you sat together with your family and had a good talk? What took place on that occasion? Was it productive? Was it fruitful? Was it fulfilling?
Let me share with you the steps we need to take if we are going to improve communications in our families.
I. ELIMINATE SOME PROBLEMS
There are some problems which must be eliminated from the whole matter of communication if we are going to talk with one another the way we should.
In verse 25 he says, “Wherefore putting away lying.” You have to eliminate dishonest elements. You have to eliminate lying. Lies in a family are the termites of trust. When you lie to your mate or your children or your parents, these lies become termites that eat away at trust. Lies can be lethal in a family. When you speak lies and when you deal with your family on the basis of lies, it can be deadly to your family.
According to the Bible we are all born liars. Psalm 58:3 says, “The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies.” So we are born with a sinful nature. We are born knowing how to tell lies. Unfortunately, many liars simply improve with age.
Here's the second element you have to eliminate in verse 29. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.” Not only do you eliminate the dishonest elements in your family talks, but you also have to eliminate these distasteful elements. These corrupt communications!
The word “corrupt” there is a word that was used to refer to “overripe fruit or rotten fish”. There are some elements of corrupt communication that we have to get out of our family conversations. There is a process of corrupt communication that happens in a family.
The process is like this. Sometimes it starts with complaining. There is a place for registering legitimate complaints in the family. Most of us, however, find a sore and we pick at it hoping for a reaction.
At other times it is complaining that is attached to blame. It moves from complaining to criticism. We begin to criticize the other members of the family.
We hear words like this. “You never can do anything right.” “You are always like that.” “Why are you so prone to make mistakes like that?” It gets into the critical mode.
After that it moves into contempt. Then the person begins to have contempt for other members of the family. You hear words like this. “You are so stupid.” “You are so dumb.” “How can you be so ugly?” This is all corrupt communication. This is stuff that ought to be eliminated from our relationships with one another.
Verse 31 says, “Let all bitterness be put away.” “Bitterness is anger turned in”. It refers to “a bitter root that produces a biter fruit.” It is poison to a family when we become bitter and let our bitterness interfere with our family.
Beware of bitterness but we must also avoid “wrath”. The word “wrath” The word means “an explosion”. It means “an eruption”. We get the word “thermos” and “thermonuclear” from it. There are some families that the person who blows up the quickest and the person who makes the biggest scene is the one who wins the family argument. The Bible says you have to eliminate that.
The next word is, “Anger.” This word means “rising anger”. It means “to become red faced”. It is the idea of someone holding onto their anger as it grows and grows. It is the picture of rising anger. It is the picture of brooding over things and allowing them to take root in the heart.
Then it says, “Clamor.” That words means “loud speaking”. It refers to shouting. In some families the one who talks the loudest is the one who wins the argument. The one who can shout the most is the one who subdues all the rest in the family. That's not always the parents, by the way.
hen he mentions “Evil speaking.” This phrase refers to “injurious speech”. It is “an attempt to hurt another person with our words.” This happens when we talk down to people; when we say hurtful things to others; when we use words to wound. We must be careful when we speak in anger. We will say things then that we would never say otherwise!
II. ADD SOME PRINCIPLES
Look at verse 25. “Wherefore putting away lying, speak truth with his neighbor.” You say that's talking about neighbors. Well, your closest neighbors are the members of your family. So you put in your family and in your family talks the element of truthfulness. You build on truthfulness, speaking the truth. Somebody says, “That's right down my line, preacher. I tell them the truth in my family. I give them a piece of my mind.” You better be careful, you may not have a lot of that to spare.
Look at verse 15. “But speaking the truth in love.” Some people claim they are being truthful when the truth of the matter is that they are being brutal. You can be cruel with the truth. Just because something is true does not means that it must be said!
We should take the time to pray together and seek God as a family! We must talk about the Lord to our families. We must talk to the Lord about our families.
Mom and Dad, your sons and daughters are heading out to school. They are going into a culture that is hostile to everything you and I believe. It is hostile to the Bible. It is hostile to the church. It is hostile to the Lord Jesus Christ. All the powers of hell have assailed the young people of this country. How can we imagine sending them out into that world until we have first filled them with the truth of God and prayed for God’s protective hand to rest upon them? Put God's truth in your family. The truth of the Word of God!
Problems will arise in our families. When they do, they must be dealt with. When problems must be addressed within our families, we need to keep a few simple matters in mind.
1. Learn to attack the problem and not people. Do you know what donkeys do when they are threatened? They will form a circle, facing the enemy. They begin to kick, and they just kick one another. You are smarter than a donkey! So are horses. They put their heads together and kick the enemy, not one another! When problems arise in our families, or in our churches, we should attack the enemy and not one another.
2. Learn to fix the problem and not the blame. Don't always be looking for someone to blame for the problem. Let every member of the family have the opportunity to express themselves. Every member of your family is to be a valued member of the family. Everyone is precious to God. God has given you that family unit and every member deserves to be listened to, deserves to be respected and deserves to be heard. Listen to one another and focus on the problem and not the person!
Now, most of us men, when we hear the problem, we have the immediate solution. But there are times when you just hold the bucket. You keep your mouth shut. You just let them fill up the bucket. They tell you all about the problem. They tell you how they feel about the problem. They tell you the emotions that are going on. You just nod. You are holding the bucket.
Learn to share with one another and rejoice when something good happens. When something unpleasant has happened, learn to weep with one another. Learn to gather around one another.
But there are times that you put up the mirror. By putting up the mirror you help them see the problem by questions and by kind responses you make to help them really see what's going on. So you fix the problem not the blame by listening to the whole situation.
There was a woman who went to a counselor. She was very upset at her husband. She said, “I am tired of that man. I'm going to divorce that man. But I'm not going to just divorce him, I'm going to destroy him and I want you to tell me how to do it.”
He said, “I tell you what you do. If you want not only to divorce him but destroy him in the process, you go home and act as if everything is fine. You praise him and honor him and are responsive to him. Cook him his favorite meals. Tell him how wonderful he is. Tell him that he is your hero. Tell him that he is your everything. Do this for several days and then finally when you got him in that situation, hit him with both barrels and tell him you are going to divorce him and absolutely take everything he has. He won't have a thin dime when you're through with him. She said, 'I'll do that.”
Several months went by and he didn't hear from her. So the counselor decided to call her. He said, “Are you about ready for that divorce?”
She said, “What divorce? I'm married to the most wonderful man in all the world. Who would want to
One of the best things we could ever do for our families is to learn to communicate with one another. We need to learn to express our feelings and concerns in the right manner. We need to learn to communicate with our families about the Lord and what He is doing in our lives. We need to learn to listen to one another, respect one another and love one another in the right ways for the glory of God.