“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, ESV) This is known as the Golden Rule.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve written about love of strangers (biblical hospitality) and loving neighbor as self. This week I’m taking those two a step further by suggesting that we love others through better communication.
I’m not sure of the percentage, but I’d wager that the majority of relational troubles stem from communication issues. Sometimes I wonder how we communicate with other people at all. In communication, we’ve got three parts: the sender, the message, and the receiver – and in any or all of those parts things can get garbled, twisted, added in, or left out. On top of that even speaking the same language isn’t easy. For example, different professions have their own jargon. There are also regional variations such as the pop drunk here being called soda in California. We can overcome these communication issues by aiming for understanding. At some level, isn’t this what we all want? To be understood?
“Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked the Scripture-reading Ethiopian in Acts chapter eight. “How can I, unless someone explains it to me?” was the reply. Philip did not assume there was understanding but asked and then helped when needed.
Jesus was well spoken of, and people “marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth” (Luke 4:22). He explained parables to those who did not understand their deeper meaning but wanted to.
Both Philip and Jesus cared about the people they were talking with. Their communication showed their caring. In their communication, they did to others what they wished others would do to them. This week, try to choose your words with the other person in mind. How would they want to be spoken to? Do they understand what you’re trying to say? Understanding them will help you be understood. Think of it as the Golden Rule of communication.