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By Pastor Phillip Howle
web posted November 6, 2013

RELIGION – I am a chit-chatter. I talk to a lot of people, but I have been feeling a little convicted lately about the words that I say and the words I don’t say. I felt bad the other evening when I realized that though I had spoken to many people that day, I had said nothing. I had discussed the weather, football, and politics; a little how church had been going and my favorite subject my two sons. But I had said nothing of any substance to anyone. I had not prayed with anyone and I had not tried to have any in depth conversations with a single person that God had placed in my path. Those people were no better for having encountered me.
Now obviously you can’t probe some spiritual and emotional state in every encounter you have with others, but we need a lot more than just mere pleasantries to become the men and women God would have for us to be. I was reading the other week and came across some instructions that the prophet Elisha gave to his servant in 2 Kings 4:26 “Run now to meet her, and say to her, ‘Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child?’

The situation is a distraught mother whose son appears to be dying came to meet Elisha, as he asked a series of penetrating questions, with the intent of finding out how she was (really) doing and what he could do to help. We would do well to ask those we care about these same three simple questions periodically—and not to settle for superficial answers.

FIRST: He asks is it well with you? Are you doing all right? How is your walk with Chirst? Now many people always give a default smile and say they are doing fine. Others will spill their life to you. I am always the best at doing this, but it is important that you ask the Lord each day to make you sensitive to the people he places in your path.

SECOND: How about with your marriage? Are you walking in love, putting each other first, staying morally pure? We live in a world where the marriage is continually under attack and many people are walking around with marriages hanging on by a thread and God could be wanting to use you to help and encourage them.
THIRD: How about with your children? Do they have a heart and hunger for God? How can I pray for them or encourage them in their faith? The same with marriage, our children live in a world with a complete set of values antithetical to those of Christ.
I am not saying to be nosy, overbearing, or suspicious. It’s just that these are some of the first things people stop wanting to talk about in any depth or detail when things are starting to slip off center, when priorities are being compromised, when pride is blocking access to the sensitive areas of their hearts. Their life begins to darken and God desires to use us to bring light to the hurting.
Also, know that these areas are also some of Satan’s prime targets—the places where many people are particularly vulnerable. By inviting them to open up about issues involving their homes and hearts, you’re becoming part of their healing. And by being available to pray and provide needed support and encouragement, you’re truly helping.

So be willing to bring up these core subjects in others’ lives. Be patient, listening to what they’re really saying. Be the kind of friend who loves them in ways most others are too busy to do. And don’t forget to point them to Jesus at their greatest points of need.

Remember the challenge of Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” To speak with grace means to say what is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, complementary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful. Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Paul also writes that out speech must be seasoned with salt. It is not only to be gracious, but also to have an effect. Salt can sting when rubbed into a wound (cf. Prov. 27:6). It also prevents corruption. Believers’ speech should act as a purifying influence, helping untangle others from the hurt of sin. Salt also adds flavor, so being joyful and witty is a Christian virtue as well.

Paul writes that we must know how to respond to each person. We must know how to say the right thing at the right time. In Peter’s words, they must be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15).

So, when’s the last time you talked heart to heart with one of your close friends or family members? Pray about making your next conversation a significant one. And, be willing to open your life up to be asked these kinds of questions by others.

Pastor Phillip

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