By Caitlin Meadows
Do you communicate with someone at least once a day? If so, you are a communicator.
Are you a follower of Christ? If so, you are a leader.
You are a leader because you were created and re-created to lead.
You are a communicator because, well, we are all communicators.
Every day you send and receive messages with those around you – your family, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and even strangers. In other words, you communicate.
Unless you opt for the hermit life, communication is unavoidable.
Through your various communications with those around you, you are leading each person to a conclusion about your life.
So, as an influential Christian communicator, the questions to ask yourself are:
1.) What is the underlying message I wish to communicate through my life?
2.) To what or to Whom do I want my life to point others?
If your answer to both questions is the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, there are three necessary components worth noting to accomplish intentionality and awareness in our daily communications.
TO EFFECTIVELY COMMUNICATE CHRIST WE MUST:
1. EMBRACE HUMILITY
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” – James 3:2
James 3 doesn’t beat around the bush about the most basic form of communication every human practices – our speech. Wouldn’t it be amazing to never put your foot in your mouth? To never accidentally speak before thinking? Or to never speak out in anger?
According to James 3:2, we’re all prone to “stumble” through our speech. This is an indicator that we are flawed. But what is it really getting at?
Jesus, holding the Pharisees accountable for their hypocrisy, crushed their legalistic self-justification with this truth:
“How can you speak good when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Matthew 12:34
In James 3, the author is addressing our spoken words but, like Jesus with the Pharisees, he’s actually addressing the state of our hearts.
If our hearts are pure, our speech will reflect purity.
Because we are all prone to sinning through our speech, we need self-awareness to recognize our givenness to sin and to take steps toward humbling ourselves before Christ.
We can start with humbling prayers like those found throughout the Psalms:
- “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
- “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10
- “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” – Psalm 139:23-24
2. PRACTICE DISCIPLINE
In chapter 3 of his book, James continues to explain the ways we stumble with our tongues. He unpacks the hypocrisy our speech reveals about our hearts. “With it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God…These things ought not to be so,” he continues, “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” 1
The examples from nature in 3:11-12 are intended to describe situations that never happen… He is stating the obvious, normative facts that one spring does not pour forth two kinds of water; a plant of one kind does not produce fruit of another kind…The implication is that a true Christian will not make a practice of unchristian speech; and the practice of unchristian speech is evidence that the speaker is not a Christian.” 2
Though in our human nature we are prone to stumbling in the form of “unchristian speech”, this should not be our habit. Along with humbling ourselves before the Lord through awareness of our givenness to sin, we also need to be intentional with the words we choose.
This sort of intentionality, in effect, means practicing self-discipline in our conversations. God hears every word spoken, whether in the privacy of our homes or in public. Will praise and profanity both come from our mouths? From our hearts?
With humility, we can intentionally commit to practicing self-control in our conversations.
And we know that this discipline is not something we can accomplish through our own ability. Self-control is listed among the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. It is evidence, then, that the Holy Spirit is ruling our hearts and dictating our words. Which brings us to the third component of effectively communicating Christ:
3. ACCEPT GRACE
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
For much of my life, I viewed the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as a to-do list. I presumed that if I could produce each of these fruit, I’d know that I was filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, I’d strive to achieve love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. However, the only fruit my striving produced was frustration because I failed daily.
The problem with my feeble attempts was that I was ignoring the Source of the fruit and putting myself in the true Source’s place. I was missing that these fruit are a by-product of the Holy Spirit and for these fruit to be produced in my life, I needed to submit to the Spirit.
This is only accomplished through the grace of God. As Paul testifies in 2 Corinthians 12:9, God’s grace is sufficient for us. It is His power magnified in and through us in contrast to our obvious, human weakness.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9
We are enabled by grace to walk in the Spirit and showcase His fruit- not the least of which is self-control. And His grace is not something we can work to achieve or possess; all we can do is accept it as a gift in humble surrender.
First, we are aware of our natural givenness to sin and humbled before the Lord.
Second, we are intentional about practicing discipline as we communicate with others so as to reflect the Lord.
But both our humility and discipline are only accomplished through our acceptance of His empowering grace that He wills to work in and through us. As a result, we give all credit to the Lord as the One who not only lovingly humbles and disciplines us, but as the One who is worthy of our hearts, lives, and conversations.
Though we may still stumble on occasion, it is through Christ’s enabling grace, humbling and disciplining our hearts that we can effectively communicate Him to those we encounter each day.