Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Yeah, there is the part of holy kisses  but that is not all that fellowshipping with our mouths is
Taste your words before you spit them out
about. Now that we have that out of the way, we can move on to other things.
We have been considering relationships amongst people with whom we share the same faith. Maybe I should set the disclaimer here that I do not mean that we should relate only with fellow Christians or people with whom we attend the same church. I am zooming in on this particular kind of relationship because its dynamics are quite different from relationships with neighbours and colleagues. Christian fellowship often has the feature of expecting our best behaviour even when dealt the worst cards. Interestingly, we also (albeit unconsciously) expect such standards from other Christians in our social circles-after all, they claim to be followers of Christ.
If you missed the introductory part of the series, here is it.
So apart from (hopefully holy) kisses, how do we fellowship with our mouths? With our words! Think about it, a significant percent of our relationships with everyone in our lives is based on our words. Friendships start with ‘hellos’, ‘his’ and marriages start with ‘properly worded’ proposals and long term relationships die based on something that was said or wasn’t. The Bible was totally on point when it said that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).
I can’t imagine how to have a healthy relationship with someone without words. I personally find that one of the earliest signals that a relationship is strained when we can no longer freely use words. Words have the power to build, to encourage, to heal, to nurture and to enrich lives; at the same time, they are very capable of destroying decade long friendships. Destructive words take different forms: gossip, rumour, slander, lying, bitter criticism and such. My pastor says he is more willing to have a friend who is struggling with addictions than one who is dangerous with words. It may sound extreme but you get the idea. The only time we should talk about people behind their backs is when we are saying something positive about them.
He takes it seriously when a church member repeatedly gossips. This is understandable when you consider how churches, families, organisations and empires have been destroyed because of a word out of season. Ultimately, ill words destroy unity within the community. It causes division and we know that a house that is divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). Perhaps one of the footholds that the enemy has against today’s church is the fact that we are more divided than our adversaries are united.
Unity amongst God’s children is not a flimsy matter. When you consider the last words of Jesus, we find Him repeatedly concerned and focused on unity among His disciples after His departure. He devoted almost an entire chapter of John (17) to this. After spending three years, teaching and nurturing the disciples, Jesus was still concerned enough to devote one of His last prayer points to unity among His own people. The more I consider it, the more sobering it is for me.
Since we are Jesus’ followers, unity should matter to us and since we know negative words destroy unity, we should watch what we say to one another.

Your word dispenser is your mouth and it is a ‘new model’ because you are a new creature in Jesus-even if you got saved a century ago. So, Yes unity matters. Yes our words matter-they make or destroy unity and yes our relationships are often based on the words we share with one another. Since we are new creatures custom-fit with the new model word dispenser also known as the mouth, here is what to do with them. It is as simple as ABC:
1.        We are to affirm one another. Affirming a person basically involves saying words of grace to reassure them of God’s love for them and the fact that while they are imperfect, they are good enough to be loved. In not so spiritual terms, it involves giving complements when necessary. Parents are encouraged to ‘catch their children being good’; we should catch one another being good. Complementing the simple things does not hurt. “Nice dress. Nice dentition. Nice apartment…” It doesn’t kill. You will uplift a single parent if you commend her on something she is doing right with the kids than pointing out all she is doing wrong. I may be wrong but I think women sometimes hoard complements. Why is that? 
People are struggling with massive esteem issues and while your sincere complements may not resolve the deep-seated stuff, it won’t hurt them either. This is not to encourage flattery or complements  in exchange for favours – people can tell when you are faking it. At the same time, there are people that are known for having a good word for everyone. Barnabas was a guy like that.
Amazing things happen when we affirm one another. For example, I completed the draft of my very first book within a month because a friend, Olawale, never gave up on me. With his words, I realised that he sincerely believed I could do it. That is a testimony of how powerful words are among brethren. I am sure you have heard stories of achievers across diverse areas of life who emphasise that they were able to achieve so much because of the affirmation, encouragement and support they received from people through words.
Saying 'please', 'sorry', 'thank you' also goes some where under affirming people since the idea is to talk to people with respect. I dunno where to file talking with a leveled voice sha but it is also part of it. You can be right but be wrong at the top of your voice.
2.       Another thing to do with our word dispensers is to bless people. This basically involves making intercession on their behalf-corporately or individually, privately or in public. I have a friend who would end our phone conversations with “God bless you” and you could tell that he meant it- always. He is not ‘spirikoko’ like we say but He is a Christian. Similar habits won’t hurt anyone.
Praying for people really helps because we never tell the strength of our spiritual investments on one person. I have known over the years that no matter what happens, my back is covered because I can almost bet it that as sure as dawn, my father and mother would pray for my siblings and I-at least twice a day and at each time, calling our individual names. Even when we were in boarding school in Abeokuta and they were living in Suleja (Niger state), I slept knowing I was prayed for.
It is more difficult to gossip or slander someone you pray for. Affirming and blessing people will help us keep out the negative words. This is also a good place to note that swearing and cussin' up a storm is not exactly a Christian trait. That is the direct opposite of blessing people with our mouths.
3.       Finally, we use our mouths and words to correct in love. We are not to just butterup ourselves and turn a blind eye to obvious wrongs- especially when it is a sin. That is not love. It is wickedness. But I guess there is a way to correct a person and they would know that such correction is love motivated. By the way, people are pretty defensive these days. Everybody is shouting “DON’T JUDGE ME!” I see this so often I have to ask myself, if everyone is complaining about being judged, who is then doing the judging?
Regardless of how it is, correcting people is part of how to use our word dispensers. There is a fine line between correcting people and criticising them and we would consider that in the next post but it is better to go the whole nine yards rather than single out correction as our sole ministry while we ignore affirming people and blessing them. I mean if you have affirmed and blessed a person, correcting them in love is less likely to be mis-understood. isn't it?
There you have the ABC of how to fellowship with our mouths. I understand that it isn’t that easy but when we lean on God’s grace, we can trust Him to strengthen and empower us to do what is right. 
Have you had positive experiences based on the words someone said to you? Is there any good thing you do with your mouth that isn’t captured here? Don’t hesitate to share.
God bless.
Miss August.
PS: To sort of walk my talk, I am sorry this post came in later than expected.

Disclaimer: Does this post mean I have mastered ‘proper’ speech? Er…that is still work in progress. Just yesterday, I railed at my friend whose hairstylist almost killed my hair the very first time I decided to try her out. Did I mention that this happened on the Sabbath? Oh well…

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