We live in a paradoxical time. We have access to an unparalleled amount of information at speeds beyond the imagination of anyone living before 1980. Yet, in spite of all this information, we are losing the ability to communicate with one another. One evidence of this is the divorce rate. A staggering amount of marriages end within ten years. A constant problem in failing or failed marriages is the lack of ability to communicate. When talking with couples that are married or who want to be married, the mentor puts communication high on the priority list of items to work through with the couple. As we approach this important area of life, I think it is important to avoid a new legalism; you know something like “Ten Steps to Great Communication!” Let’s seek a new starting point.
Communication starts with who you are. For the follower of Christ, this means that we are new people in Christ, God’s adult sons and daughters. We cannot change the way the ungodly communicate. A basic principle operates in every human. Our words come out of our hearts (the inner person). See Matthew 12:33-37; Luke 6:45. Destructive words come from destructive hearts (Matthew 15:19); this is the way of life for people who do not follow Christ (Romans 3:13-14). To tell an ungodly person how to reform their way of talk is to provide a temporary, inadequate fix.
We used to live in a house with ongoing water leaks. Once we discovered a leak in our house, as a ceiling tile fell to the floor. The proper procedure was to repair the leak. We did not go out and buy a new ceiling tile, put it in place, without fixing the leak, and then say, “Our problem is solved!”
Those who follow Christ have experienced a radical change. We are no longer what we were, but we are new in Christ. The old inner person has been put off, and a new inner person has been put on (Colossians 3:9-10). As you carefully read the text, you will see that the new inner person is not perfect but is experiencing continual renewal. As J.I. Packer said, it is like we live in a house that is being renovated, and sometimes we have to deal with the dust and trash of renovation. But it is this radical change and ongoing renewal that gives us a new starting point. If you believe in Christ, you are new in Christ. Now live like the new person you are, not the like the old person you used to be. By faith live in conformity with your new life that you have through union with Christ. Our problems come when we don’t live by faith in Christ and try to deal with life in a fleshly manner. A new pattern of life happens as we keep in step with the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal 5:19-26). The Spirit acts within us to renew us according to Christ (Colossians 3:8-9). A married couple who knows Christ can say to each other, “Honey, the Lord has fixed the leaks in our hearts! Now he will help us clean up the mess and redecorate!” The first step in communication change is to know the Ascended Christ by faith and then to act by the Spirit in conformity with him.
Grace and peace, David