Each one of us begins to develop a style of handling conflict at an early age. Your personal way of fighting evolves out of your natural instincts, your personality and your early family dynamics. Many of us are unable to defuse conflict because we are repeating the extreme patterns of childhood . . . attacking and confrontational or evasive and avoiding. Either strategy fails to appropriate the grace that is available to a child of God. Marital conflict left unresolved always leads to bitterness that is toxic to the relationship. Hebrews 12:15 – “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” NIV Which kind of “fighting style” do you possess? Are you attacking and confrontational like a shark? Or maybe you are evasive and avoiding much like a turtle? Once you understand your own fighting style and that of your partner, you are ready to learn to lay down your weapons and pick up some tools to aid in “fighting fair.”
Over the next several weeks I want to pass along a couple of tools that are indispensable in resolving issues in healthy ways. As a matter of fact, these two tools go “hand-in-glove” when it comes to fighting fair in our relationships.
This week, let’s begin looking at the first tool . . .I call it our Communication Pliers. Just like there are two sides to a pair of pliers, there are two sides which make up our communication: The verbal side & the non-verbal side. We can find these two sides mentioned in Ephesians 4:29 and James 1:19.
Let’s start with the verbal side of our communication and consider Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:29, “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.” NIV The verbal side of our communication has two sides as well, unwholesome and wholesome. Paul begins with the unwholesome side as he uses the word for “unwholesome,” Sapros. The word picture here is “to putrefy” and means to be rotten or worthless. Rotten, worthless words are words that hurt, words that wound, words that bite. “Unwholesome words” are words that are used as weapons on others. Next, Paul transitions to wholesome words by saying, “. . . but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
If we are going to learn to “fight fair” we must learn to use words that are “helpful,” “building,” and words that “benefit those who listen,” or wholesome words.
What do wholesome words look like? Glad you asked. . .
1. Wholesome words are Truthful words. Proverbs 12:22 – “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” NIV
2. Wholesome words are Life giving words. Proverbs 18:21 – “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” NIV
3. Wholesome words are Encouraging words. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 — “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up . . . .” NIV
4. Wholesome words are Investing words. Proverbs 12:14 – “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.” NIV
5. Wholesome words are Loving words. 1 Corinthians 13:1 – “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” NIV
How would you describe your communication with your spouse, friend, relative, or co-worker during this past week? Wholesome or Unwholesome
If you used unwholesome words, how could you edit your last conversation with your spouse, friend, relative, or co-worker to transition your words from being unwholesome to wholesome?
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