Imagine someone has placed a bug in your pocket and is recording all your conversations with friends, colleagues, family, and strangers for 24 hours.
Would they be able to see God’s love reflected in your conversations? Does your speech build up, comfort, support, and encourage those around you? Could it be described like what St. Paul says in Ephesians 4:29 (NIV):
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Or are your conversations mostly about what is wrong with the world, what you don’t like about others, or how you’ve been wronged?
What does love sound like?
When I taught third grade, to help students understand a new concept, we would fill out a chart titled, “What it looks like- What it sounds like?”
As Christians we focus more on what love looks like. We give to the poor, we serve in church using our talents, and volunteer our time. But so often we neglect to show God’s love in our daily conversations.
Robert Ellsburg, author of Saints’ Guide to Happiness says, “We are never so truly ourselves as when we reflect the image of God.” And God is love. He also states that, “we are to put off ourselves and put on Christ whose nature is simply love itself.”
Your nature includes not only showing love, but speaking love.
So is Christ’s love coming through your day-to-day speech, or is it dominated by the Terrible C’s:
For many of us these actions have become so habitual we are oblivious to the frequency it has in our daily conversations. These habits are the OPPOSITE of love.
We complain about the disrespectful youth, having to wait in line, or being put on hold! We condemn anyone from the government to our in-laws or our bosses. Criticizing can be so automatic whether it’s about the way someone else dresses, talks, or the choices others make.
Why do we frequently engage in the Terrible C’s?
- Let’s be honest. They all make us feel a little more superior or important and temporarily feel good.
- We hang around other people who feed off the conflict and negativity that is caused by the Terrible C’s.
- We have been doing this our whole lives and are unaware of just how much we complain, criticize, and condemn.
What are the effects of the Terrible C’s?
- Complaining, criticizing, or condemning separates us from each other. This is not what love sounds like. And every time we do it, I imagine Satan is doing the happy dance.
- You miss out on opportunities to SHOW your love to God.
Look at what John says in 1 John 4:20 (MSG):
“If anyone boasts, I love God, and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both.”
- Let me ask you, how much fun do you think you are to be around if you habitually complain, criticize, or condemn? You may not realize you are morphing into a PEV!
Three steps to crank up the volume of love in your speech
1. Arm yourself with the word of God. One of my favorite bands is The Smiths, and in their song, I know it’s over, the singer Morrissey says, “It takes strength to be gentle and kind.”
Calvin Coolidge once said, “Little progress can be made by merely attempting to repress what is evil; our great hope lies in developing what is good.”
It is so easy to do the Terrible C’s. The only way we can develop what is good is through the strength and power God gives us by being in His word.
2. Become aware of your talk, and break the habit. The Terrible C’s are a form of ugly talk, and ugly talk spreads mind weeds. If you are about to drop a C bomb, stop! Reflect! Ask yourself, “What purpose does my complaining, criticizing, or condemning serve?” If it only serves your ego, then close your mouth and see the next step.
3. Change your focus! What is the opposite of complaining? Either accepting the circumstance or helping to change it. The opposite of condemning? Offering grace. And the opposite of criticizing? Find the good in any circumstance.
Offering grace, silencing your complaints, generously complimenting are all ways you can reflect God’s love.
It’s time to be the person God truly intended you to be when He created you. To be love. To show love. To SOUND like love. To reflect on to others the love He has for you.