Speak with Love!
How true! The "way" we speak and "to whom" we speak is just "as important as what [we] say" -- maybe even more so.
- Tone of voice is so important. People feel our attitudes in our tone of voice.
- If we have a bad tone of voice -- if we get intense, have a condescending tone, raise our voice, yell, swear, call people names, whine, complain, criticize, or sound insulting -- then whatever we say will not be heard. It’s simply not effective. Also, such speech is abusive.
- So, if we really want someone to hear our message, then we have to make sure we have a good tone of voice.
- This does not mean we have to be wishy-washy or weak. We can speak with love and still be strong. Just look at Jesus.
- We also need to trust that we’ll be led to speak to the right people about the right things with the best tone of voice. We can know that God is guiding us in every conversation, whether that conversation is about God, homework, sports, or relationships.
It can be hard to have a good tone of voice 100% of the time, especially if we feel hurt, misunderstood, rejected, angry, tired, or bitter. But that's what's needed. So, how do we maintain a positive tone of voice throughout this Christmas season and for the rest of our lives?
We love -- "simply love!" Then, everything we think, say, and do will be impelled and characterized by love. If love is in our hearts, it has to be in our voices.
If we really love, our love is:
- "uncontaminated by self-interest"
- We have to love without thinking of ourselves at all, without expecting to gain anything for loving. We can’t even think, “If I love this person, maybe he or she will be nicer to me.” If we are thinking of ourselves, then we are not really loving.
- We love everyone because that’s our purpose; that’s who we are; that’s what we do. We love without condition because that’s what Jesus did and expected us to do.
- "uncontaminated … by counterfeit faith"
- A counterfeit is sometimes hard to tell because it’s created to mimic the original. So, we need to be willing to examine our own thinking and see if we need to purify our faith. We need to be aware.
- If we are truly going to love, then we can’t let a false sense of faith get in the way.
- We need to make sure we don’t misplace our love in person or in personality -- that we don’t worship people or place our happiness in their hands.
- Having pure faith requires the humility of which Jesus spoke in the parable of the publican and the Pharisee who went to the temple to pray (read Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee thought that his faith was the best; he judged others because of their faith. But his was a “counterfeit faith,” for it was devoid of genuine, non-judgmental compassion and love. We don’t want to make this mistake.
- "open to God"
- Our love for others is only a reflection, an outgrowth, an expression of God’s love for us.
- So if we want to love; if we want to experience the great blessings that come from loving; if we want to spread the Christ-love, then our lives must be open to God.
- If we’re open to God, we’re closed to evil.
- Let’s shut our mental doors on feelings of selfishness, envy, frustration, jealousy, exhaustion, busyness, superficiality, low self-esteem, depression, loss, pain, or anything else that would try to take away our joy, shut the door to God, and make us blind to the true spirit of the Christ.
- not inclined to "gossip"
- There’s nothing about gossip that is loving.
- And yet it seems so easy to get caught up with our friends or colleagues and gossip about others. It just seems to be part of regular conversations in today’s world.
- In order to stop gossip, we may think about how we feel when others gossip about us and remind ourselves that our purpose is to love.
- If we expect to bring love into our lives, then we must replace gossip with appreciation, admiration, or silence.
No one has said that loving this way would be easy. It's sometimes difficult to love and to be loving, especially when people do things that are easily classified as unloving. But Jesus said:
"Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously…. If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back?.... If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal?" (The Message, Luke 6:27-30, 32, 33)
Loving this way requires real discipline. And it's worth it -- even if the results aren't exactly what we expected. Remember, that's the point of love -- to love for love's sake. And when we are able to think, speak, and act with love -- to meet hatred, resistance, or anger with a loving tone of voice or a loving response -- we feel better about ourselves, as we've done our "best." We feel stronger, healthier, happier, and better-equipped to change the world -- one loving thought, word, or act at a time. What greater gift can we give this Christmas than this gift of love!
Here's Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and publican who prayed referenced above:
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.