When Facebook was new, I saw most of my friends’ stories and pictures in my newsfeed. It’s more complicated now. Although I filter my feed, it’s mostly filled with news, ads, and articles on every subject. Anyone who wants can communicate almost anything and have an audience eager to listen. In a culture where “shades of gray” are the norm, God calls us, as Christian communicators, to write words of truth that point a focused beam of light into confusion and darkness. Our messages encourage, heal, and instruct. Some remove shadows that blur the line between truth and error. But we don’t want to get lost in the noise. We want to be heard and to carry impact. When we communicate the truth of the Gospel with love, the world leans in a little closer to hear what we have to say.
But if we get our feathers ruffled about something, then bang out a blog post and press publish, we may offend more than help. Even if we take care to craft our message, but don’t steep it in love, we can still lose our audience and the opportunity to affect change in their lives. I know firsthand how delivering a message the wrong way can hurt people. It can be worse than not delivering it at all. Communicating the truth in love starts with prayer.
We can apply all Scriptures regarding the tongue to our use of written words. When you come across verses that relate to words and how we communicate, write them down. Use them as a springboard for your prayer time. We must bathe our writing process in prayer and God’s Word. Here are a few to meditate on and pray through as we write the messages God gives us.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3 NIV)
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1 NIV)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21 NIV)
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 4:29 NIV)
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
Our time in God’s Word and in prayer impacts how we write. And that impacts how our audience responds to it. Will they keep reading and experience life change? Or will they stop reading and go to the next good-sounding thing? When we start from a place of love, they are more likely to respond positively.
3 Things to Consider Before You Press Publish
Prayer is an essential part of rooting our message in love, especially if it’s an unpopular one. Prayer takes time, and that means patience. If we can’t be patient, then we need to reevaluate what we’re doing. We honor our audience when we invest time in prayer before, during, and after the writing process.
Check your motivation.
You have a message burning inside you. Something compels you to write it and deliver it to your audience. Why? What prompted your desire to communicate this message? This is an important step, and we should not rush through it. We need to know why we want to put our message out there.
- Did God reveal fresh insight during your quiet time?
- Do you want to defend yourself?
- Are you angry? If so, are you personally upset or are you angry about how someone else is being treated?
- Did something break your heart?
- Do you see others walking on a dangerous path you previously walked on?
- Do you want to help people live a better life?
As you read your Bible and pray, the Holy Spirit will reveal your true heart on this matter.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
Determine your goal.
Your goal differs from your motivation. Your motivation drives you. Even though you can’t make people change, the goal for your message is what you hope and pray the result will be. So what is your goal for this particular message?
For example, we base our lives on what we believe to be true. If we base our lives on a lie, the results can be disastrous. When we see believers headed down a road with hurtful consequences, we want to warn them and to protect them. With this in mind, the goal would be to replace the lie with the truth of God’s Word so they can change direction and avoid pain.
That’s one purpose of God’s Word—it corrects us and shows us the right way to live (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Communicating the truth with love is how we are effective.
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)
Ground your message in God’s Word.
When a message is burning inside you, it’s a good idea to review it and make sure it lines up with Scripture. I remember times when I was so excited about something I couldn’t wait to share it. But when I took the time to study it and learn more, I discovered I didn’t really know what I thought I knew. It would have been foolish for me to publish something hastily. God holds teachers to a higher standard (James 3:1). As Christian communicators in the public arena, that is what we are.
Use the cross-references and concordance in your Bible to get the full counsel of God’s Word on a subject. Check out the topical study tools available on Bible study websites like BibleGateway, Blue Letter Bible, and Bible Hub. Logos software by Faithlife is an excellent resource for in-depth Bible study. A free version comes with some basic study tools. Pray while you study and learn! You can move forward when you’re confident your message is accurate.
How to Tell If You’re Communicating the Truth with Love
You’ve prayed, evaluated your motivation and goals for your message, and studied to make sure it lines up with God’s Word. Now you’re ready to write. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Indicators that you might not be writing from a heart of love
- Do I feel justified or overly confident?
- Will this post make people angry? Do I find any satisfaction in that?
- Do I hope this post will go viral?
Indicators that you are writing from a heart of love
- Is my heart broken over the content?
- Do I feel inadequate to communicate this message, even though I’m compelled to do so?
- Am I praying through the writing process?
- Am I a little (or a lot) nervous to press publish?
- If this post might step on a few toes, am I afraid I’ll lose readers?
None of these absolutely determine if we’re writing from a place of love. And there’s nothing wrong with hoping our message reaches many. But keeping tabs on our emotions and our attitudes while we write can help us keep our hearts in the right place for God to use us.
Communicating Truth Effectively Starts with Love
Steep your message in love, and pray through every step of the writing process. Take the time to pray for yourself. Pray that your heart will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and that He will guide you into all truth. The Apostle Paul asked several of his churches to pray specifically that he would communicate clearly and with boldness (Colossians 4:3-4). We can pray the same thing! Then pray that your message reaches everyone God intends.
Our world needs the Gospel of Truth. When God births a new message in your heart, don’t be silent, be effective! Only then will our voices be heard above the noise.When we communicate the truth of the Gospel with love, the wold leans in little closer to hear what we have to say. Communicating truth without love can be worse than not communicating it at all. When you come across verses that relate to words and how we communicate, write them down. Use them as a springboard for your prayer time.
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