“Let Your Speech Be Always With Grace”
In reply to his “friends,” Job said:
Doubtless you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you!
But I have a mind as well as you;
I am not inferior to you.
Who does not know all these things?
Job's pain incited his friends to come to his side, but not with warmth, care and love. Instead, they went on and on about how he must have done something that was so bad, it brought all this pain into his life.
Job's frustration boiled over from time to time, causing him to speak frankly with his friends. That's what we are reading in the above text.
What can we learn?
We should never speak to people in a demeaning manner. Apparently Job's friends spoke as if they were “the people,” and as if, upon their death, wisdom would die! Further, it seems they spoke down to Job so arrogantly, they implied that Job wasn't as smart as they were; thus prompting Job to say in his defense, “I have a mind too!”
No matter what we perceive people have done, and no matter how clear we believe we need to be, demeaning speech is never justified.
Fortunately my parents were very careful to teach me this. Through example and with direct admonitions they trained us to avoid demeaning speech. We were not allowed to call people, “stupid” or “idiots.”
It is not helpful! We cannot “win” people, train people and help people while we demean them and berate them. The object of all speech should be, to help, not hurt; to educate, not denigrate.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one,” (Col. 4:6).
Sometimes we may be justified in thinking about people with this typical response: “You think you are so smart. Not so much. I have a mind too!” Let's be careful to not provoke such thoughts in those we speak to.
By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 18.10; October 2011