Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Communicating in Thirds

In my quiet time this morning I was led to these notes in my study Bible:


From The Woman’s Study Bible New King James Version

Communication: Exchanging Ideas

Communication is the exchange of ideas and information by talk, gestures, or writing. It is an active process present in all meaningful relationships. Communication is not talking but also listening, looking, and feeling. Though individuals have different communication styles, spiritually mature believers are to seek continually to improve their communication with other people and with God.

Speech is powerful. The spoken word can either encourage or discourage. Scripture teaches believers to control the tongue (James 3:1-12) and speak only words of kindness (Ephesians 4:29, 32). The Book of Proverbs discusses the importance of listening with understanding to others who speak (Proverbs 11:12; 18:2; 29:20).

Words alone cannot fully express meaning. Body language, facial expression, tone of voice, and other means of nonverbal communication are essentials for effectiveness. Those who study communication patterns have concluded that two-thirds of the intent of a message is communicated non-verbally, while only one-third of the message is communicated through words.

Obviously, communication is more than conveying information. Women especially use communication to express feelings more than facts, to establish rapport more than to give a report.

Paul underscores the significance of communication and gives advice on verbal behavior (Ephesians 4:25-32). Christians are to:

  • speak the truth in love (v. 15, 25),
  • control angry words (v. 26),
  • speak words of encouragement and healing (v. 29),
  • avoid unkind or bitter speech (v. 29),
  • speak words of forgiveness (v. 32).

Mature believers realize that clear, loving communication is important in conveying the message of salvation effectively.


This led me to consider how only one-third of my message was coming across in my conversations throughout the day. We all know that so much is lost when you talk on the phone. Gestures and facial expressions are invisible. Even more is missing from the written words we share online. When we read something on a computer screen instead of having a live conversation, vocal inflection and stresses are lost. How does this affect our intended message?

I am not always clear in what I write. I do not always take the time to measure my words to make sure that they consistently encourage others. I can fall into negative speech that is not profitable for anyone. What a waste of words that is.

I find this dilemma to be multiplied when I am attempting to communicate by typing in real time. Chat rooms and instant messaging systems add urgency and remove some of the luxury of being able to choose your words carefully when putting your thoughts in writing. I find myself getting caught up in conversations that are not profitable for building up others or possibly being so silly that my message is completely lost in foolishness. I recognize that this is not glorifying to God.

It is at these times that it is best for me to step away from the keyboard and remember that it was my Creator who gave me the ability to speak and reason in words. Since all of my words are from Him shouldn't all of my words point to Him? I do not mean that we should only speak theology and eschatology and all-kinds-of-ologies. But shouldn't I always be mindful that I represent Christ in my attitudes, word choice and manner of speech?

We as believers are called be diligent to use our words (verbal or written) to “impart grace to the hearers.” Would you label your words as encouraging, healing, loving, kind, forgiving and full of grace? I challenge each of you to ponder these thoughts as we improve our communication with God and with each other.

Please leave a comment below to share with me your thoughts and wisdom on communicating effectively online. I look forward to learning more on this subject through your comments and insights.


  1. Beth, today I said something not necessarily unkind about my neighbor (literally my neighbor) but not really kind either. As soon as it came out of my mouth, the Lord convicted me and I fell such a conviction on my heart. I heard one time to only speak about someone as if they were standing right there and could hear it. If I am to be judged on every unnecessary or unkind word I speak, then sometimes I am in trouble. Praise God that He is loving and forgiving. Thanks for your blog, great encouragement to me!

  2. Jen, thank you for sharing this. I think that is a good rule about speaking as if the person were present. Wouldn't we be more mindful of our word choice, tone and even the looseness of our tongue with other people's business?

    I like that you bring up unnecessary speech. This is reason to pause. We don't just need to be aware of NOT speaking negatively but we should also ponder whether it is necessary to speak at all. What a concept!

    Thank you again. I appreciate your comments.