Christian Life and Growth - Four Rules of Communication

Steve Viars December 31, 1999

Four Rules of Communication
(Ephesians 4:25-32)
Good relationships over any length of time do not come automatically!
All of the story plots patterned after Goldilocks and Prince Charming who "ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after" are purely fictional and absolutely unscriptural!  Relationships simply never, ever, ever happen that way!  They cannot!  The reason why is that all men are sinners, and sinners are selfish.  The fact that we are selfish means that WE ARE GOING TO HAVE CONFLICTS!  James 3:16
However, you may cheer up!  Good marriages and good relationships are not built upon an absence of problems.  Problems CAN and MUST be solved!  God commands it!  And for what He has commanded He always gives the means and the strength to carry out.
In Eph. 4:22-32, Paul talks about putting off old ways and putting on Christ's ways.  In these verses he gives us four vital rules for communication to solve problems.  These rules are to be used in all our relationships.  Let's learn them.


I. Rule One:  Be Honest!  Eph. 4:25


Wayne Mack, in Marriage Relationship, rightly says that one of the most basic requirements of good communications is mutual openness and honesty!  There must be honest listening and speaking if problems are to be solved.

A. Thoughts of the mind are only known to oneself.
1. To see why this is true, read 1 Cor. 2:11.  After reading this verse, write down why a person
has to verbalize his thoughts to another.

2. What kind of specific actions and speech indicates that “I know what you are thinking”?


A. Non-verbal data is helpful but can never be conclusive.
We can never know each other by second guessing. Non-verbal indications may cause us to question, and we should be alert to smiles, frowns, voice tones, body language, notes, presence or absence, touches, pats, hugs, helpfulness, attentiveness, and sharing. However, facts can only really be known, and problems dealt with, through openness and honesty.

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C. Honesty is more than not lying.
According to Eph. 4:25, honesty and openness is more than avoiding a lie.  It means:

D. According to these passages, what happens when we do not listen and talk honestly?
1.  Prov. 18:13
2.  Amos 3:3
3.  Matt. 5:23-26
 
4.  Matt. 5:9 
5.  I Cor. 14:8, 9, 33, 40
 

E. Honesty is not a license to be unkind.  How are we to speak the truth according to Eph. 4:15?


II. Rule Two:  Keep Current!  Eph. 4:26, 27


"Be angry and sin not.  Do not ever let your wrath—your exasperation--last until sundown.  Leave no such room or foothold for the devil" (Amp. Version).

A. There are times to hold the tongue.
What do the following verses say regarding this?
1.  1 Pet. 4:8
2.  Jas. 1:19 _
We never have a right to expect people to live according to our preferences.  We are to make righteous judgments (Jn. 7:24; Matt. 7:1-6).  We are to have a forgiving spirit (Eph. 4:31, 32), receive our weaker brother (Rom. 14:1, 2), and recognize that when a person is growing, God is teaching him.






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B. There are times when it is wrong to hold the tongue.
If sin is hindering growth or causing harm to the body of Christ, or the offender or situation is deteriorating rapidly, it is extremely unloving to fail to seek to resolve the problem.

1. According to Eph. 4:26, is anger sinful in itself?
 

2. The energy called "anger" is given to attack problems; it is not given to attack and destroy people.
a.  In Eph. 4:26, 27, "clamming up" is destroying whom?(self; others)
b.  In Prov. 25:28, "blowing up" destroys others and means that the person doing this is
(in; out of) control.
c.  When we let the problem remain unsolved day after day, to whom are we giving a
foothold (Eph. 4:26, 27)?
A. Questions to ask yourself before bringing up a sticky problem to be solved:

Comment on how each of the following questions, if considered beforehand, would help you resolve conflicts.
2. Do I have the facts right (Prov. 18:13)? 

(If not, you need to admit that you are not sure.)
2. Should love hide it (1 Pet. 4:8)?
 
3. Is the timing right (Prov. 15:23b)?
 
4. Is my attitude right (Eph. 4:15)?

5. Are my words loving (Eph. 4:15)?
 
6. Have I prayed for God's help (Prov. 3:5b)?


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III. Rule Three:  Attack the Problem, not the Person!  Eph. 4:29


A. Words can harm.
According to Jas. 3:5-8, what is wrong with this statement:  "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me"?
B. People are not to be attacked.
1. What did Christ say about "cutting people down”, calling them "racca," or worthless, or fool (Matt. 5:22)?
 
2. When we attack someone as a person, who are we really criticizing?  Who created him? _________________________________
3. What are some words, voice inflections and tones, and non-verbal actions that really say to others, "I do not think you are worthwhile as a person"?
 

B. Instead, choose words that will help to solve problems: words that are solution-oriented.
Eph. 4:29 describes these words and non-verbal actions as those that "edify” and "give _____________________ to those who hear."


What does this mean?

IV. Rule Four: Act: Don't React! Eph. 4:31,32

A. Don't react.
Our tendency from our Genesis Three nature is to be defensive about dealing with our own sins and to not deal with our own needs. We tend to defend, react rather than respond, blameshift, and run. (See Gen. 3:12.)
How does Paul describe these Genesis Three-type actions in Eph. 4:31?
 
 
When someone loves us enough to approach us about a need in our life, we can always find fault with him; but we will never solve problems or grow by being a Genesis Three kind of person.  
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B. Instead, we are to act.  Eph. 4:32
Through Christ's Spirit, we must LEARN to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving.
Changing habits is not easy, but it is much easier than the "way of the transgressor."  Acting to change habits may not seem simple, but we have great promises in the following passages.  What are they?

1. 1 Cor. 10:13
 

2. Phil. 4:13

When we speak of ACTing to change habits, we mean LIST THE STEPS REQUIRED to put the biblical principle in its place.  This is what meditation is.  This is being serious about loving obedience to Christ. 

See Lesson 2, "Growing in Righteousness," and Jay Adams' booklets, Christ and Your Problems and Godliness Through Discipline.

Conclusion:
1. Listening and lovingly desiring to communicate to solve problems goes with each rule.
2. A desire to be God's kind of person and to have a right relationship with Him is essential to applying His principles.
3. For additional reading:

Your Family God’s Way by Wayne Mack (Chapters 4-14)Christian Living In the Home by Jay Adams (Chapter 3)
Marriage Relationship by Wayne Mack (Unit 4)
Say It With Love by Howard Hendricks

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video