Seven Filters For Edifying Conversations
August 11, 2013
Someone on Facebook asked the question, “How do I keep rabbits out of my garden organically.” My response was, “Steel shot instead of lead.” So that might not be the politically correct response, but who doesn’t like hasenpfeffer? Were they looking for a wind-powered electric fence, a grass-eating beagle, a solar-scarecrow? Perhaps vegetables that only taste good to non-Leporidaes.
My wife says that sometimes I need more filters, I say that sometimes she needs a bit more imagination. If I can’t say the first thing that crosses my mind with complete strangers whom I will never meet, how will I be able to talk with trusted friends?
But, my wife is probably right, I shouldn’t always say (or type) the first thing that crosses my mind. So, rather than contact Fram, I decided to see if I could find a few Biblical filters to help me be a bit more edifying. Here are a few of the filters I should probably employ.
1. I should avoid insults, even in fun. My friend may know I am joking, and even get it, but not everyone within ear shot necessarily will understand. I should try to speak clearly enough to be understood, but wisely enough to not offend. And even though I hate to say it, sarcasm is rarely funny for anyone except the one making the sarcastic remark.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:9 NIV
2. I should pepper my conversations with words that make others feel better, not worse. Sincere compliments are always appreciated. “What I like about you” can make anyone smile. There are enough words and images designed to hurt, my words should not ever purposely hurt. Which means I should take care to not even accidentally hurt someone with an unfiltered “smart remark.”
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 NIV
3. I should not go looking for a fight I am pretty comfortable about my political beliefs, and my religious beliefs. I can give thoughtful considered opinions about eating and exercise. Oh yeah, and which car to drive and where to live and when to shop and, and, well, you could say I am opinionated. But I must realize that if it is not asked for, nobody wants my opinion. And, since there is a left to my right and an up to my down and a South to my North, my opinion will almost always offend someone. So I will try to keep them where they belong, to myself.
I am entitled to my own opinions but not my own facts. And unless someone is asking for advice, they probably aren’t looking for it. Picking a fight won’t engender me to anyone.
And it doesn’t please God.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 NIV
Most people are living with some kind of pain, emotional if not physical. I should do everything in my power not to contribute to the pain, but make a deposit in the Love account of others whenever possible. There are many areas where I do not have a choice. What comes out of my mouth is not one of those areas.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 NIV
5. “Exaggeration” is just a fancy way of saying “lie”
As a storyteller, one of my tasks is to keep it interesting and keep it flowing. When I hear another storyteller “embellish”a Bible story with facts not in evidence, I bristle. When I am sharing an experience I need to remember that, if a story needs embellishment it probably doesn’t need telling. Life is exciting enough, let’s leave the fiction for novels and news. (Was that sarcastic?)
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4:25 NIV
6. The same mouth I worship with should not engage in harmful words or conversations. No exposition is needed here.
“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,” Ephesians 5:19 NIV
7. I need to please God with my words
- “On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” I Thessalonians 2:4
I guess the best filter available is the Word of God.
Do you have conversation filters? What works for you?