Thursday, September 19, 2013

Compassionate Word Choices 9/19/2013

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29

There are times in all of our lives that we need someone with whom to talk. Whether we are in the depth of sorrows or the height of celebration, we have a basic human need to interact with others. The question we must ask ourselves concerns whether we do the right thing when we receive the call.

The book of Job, among other things, is a great study about dos and don'ts when coming to the aid of another. Upon hearing of his great tragedies, Job's three friends came to his side. It is recorded that, "Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great" Job 2:13. This was a very large "do" at the time. It was exactly what Job needed. Many times people who are suffering just need to know that someone cares, but they also need time to mentally and emotionally process the things that are happening to them. A lot of talk can be distracting and do more harm than good.

Of course the other side of the story (and an Olympic level "don't" in Job's situation) is that when his friends did begin to speak, they said the wrong thing. In fact, they actually got in trouble with God: "It came about after the Lord had spoken these words to Job, that the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has,'" Job 42:7.

Beloved, caring for one another in a time of need can be a delicate and challenging thing. We do not always know what to do or what to say. It would be easy to proceed as we think we might like for someone to do if we were in that situation, but one never knows what is needed until those conditions actually arise. Even then, everyone is different. The bottom line is that we must use care with the things we say. If someone finds themselves in trouble, the last thing they need is an indictment. There will be a time for loving and gentle admonishment, but in an acute situation, love, comfort, companionship, reassurance and tender words are needed. Better said, "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person," Colossians 4:6.



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