Our words can either kill or build up. We should never underestimate the power of words – specifically spoken words. Seriously, the damage or encouragement can come from the very persons who call themselves ministers of God. Because they have such positions in the church or community, many of us can easily assume that they are always right. There is therefore a need for caution in both the ministers and the ones ministered to. We need to be wise and be truly intimate with the Person of our Savior for He is the only one who can speak with absolute truth and power.
One of the reasons why a lot of people have shied away from the local gatherings is that they get offended by the blatant ways some preachers judge their beliefs and practices. However, I find it equally damaging for sincere leaders who speak their minds out or give counsel without carefully understanding the condition of their listeners or parishioners.
Personally, I can easily avoid the judgmental people and I can even easily ignore or forgive them for their behavior. What affect me sorely are persons who think they are speaking words of wisdom without really knowing where I come from and what I am going through.
Recently, I had this disturbing experience with someone and I found myself explaining why I choose where I am now and why I do what I am doing. I felt bad afterwards because I do not find it necessary to explain to anyone what I am doing because I believe I am simply obeying God. The fact that I did not apply for any mission agency or ministry to serve the Lord is one thing that many people do not really understand.
This “judgmental” expression a person did to me recently really hurt me. I cannot just simply tell him about it because I don’t think he can fully understand its effect on me. With fellow Filipinos, I’m sure I can receive empathy for what I choose to do. With this guy I can’t, maybe because of the cultural background that may have caused our difference in looking at material things and similar issues.
My first reaction after this encounter, when I was alone, was to forgive him and understand that he lacks the experience and even the knowledge that the people we deal with are both practical and wise in their own ways; that we have to be careful with what we say and how we say things especially when these are unsolicited ones.
I thought I could get away with the feeling immediately but when I was meditating last night I felt the same disturbing hurt. Of course, we can easily dismiss that it has become the devil’s way of distracting me but I also realized that I should bring the matter to my Savior. I simply offered my feeling to God and asked for grace for me to overcome it and learn something from the incident.
Thus, I have come out with the following insights:
Let us never ever give unsolicited advice in any way. Next, unless we truly understand what the other person is going through, even if they seek our advice, let us still be cautious with what we say. Many people who come to us simply needs a physical presence to share with or a listening ear.
Moreover, when a person once came to us with a need, let us remember never ever to brand them with that need every time we meet them. We must realize that they may have forgotten about it and have already overcome it.
In addition, let us not play gods or “holier than thou” because we think some people appear naïve and silent. The adage about silent waters running deep is and will always be true. Let us never be drawn by the tendency that silent people are dumb or that when somebody nods when we tell them something that they agree with us. That is really too ridiculous to assume. Being a literature major and a drama instructor, I can always “act out” in many situations in order to maintain harmony besides getting a lot of pleasure in doing it. (Pardon me for being me.)
On the part of the receivers of “hurtful” words or judging attitude, let us learn to extend our understanding and tolerance. Let us understand that many of them are sincerely motivated to help.
Secondly, let us not fall prey to believing that they are the “voice of God.” Remember, the Bible tells us to examine every teaching we hear and I think this can be applied to every advice or opinion we hear even from godly people.
Finally, let us be totally committed and disciplined in listening to the still small voice of our Savior through meditation and times spent on His Word. There are some things that God has instructed us to do that may appear irrational to others, so let us simply practice the art of “discriminately” listening.
To sum it all up, let us: know and meditate on God’s Word daily; be intimately attuned with our Friend Jesus; speak only with wisdom through the guidance of the Holy Spirit; extend our tolerance and patience with others and; let God have the final say. His Spirit in us will give us His peace if we are obeying Him.