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Intro: Let me describe for you a typical scene of family conversation. The father and his favorite son are having a private meeting. The other family members are not included. They are talking about some things that they are intending to do and some plans they are making between one another.
The mother is eavesdropping on the conversation. What she hears is not satisfactory to her at all. So she gathers in her favorite son, the other one, and tells him what's going on between dad and the other boy. They devise a plot so that they can override what the father and that son are doing.
In the course of the affair, the mothers favorite son deceives the fathers favorite son and steals his inheritance. The one son finds that his inheritance has been stolen. He is filled with anger and outrage about the matter; and he has made the threat that just as soon as the old man dies, he's going to kill his brother. The mother realizes they have a serious situation on their hands and so she sends her boy away. She says, When this thing calms down a little bit, I'll send for you. The truth of the matter is that she never saw that boy again.
Am I describing a family conversation that may have taken place in Lenoir? The truth of the matter is I am not. Actually I am describing to you a scene which took place 3,000 years ago, and it is recorded for us in the Bible. The family is the family of Isaac and Rebekah and their twin sons, Esau and Jacob. But it is an illustration of a typical family conversation.
I want to talk to you about how to improve communications within your family. Communication is the sharing or exchanging of information, along with the emotions which accompany the information shared between individuals or groups of individuals. When you communicate you not only share what you think about a matter, but you also share how you feel about that matter.
Communication involves this process. You actually say something and you know what you think you are saying when you say what you say. Then, others who are listening to you hear what you say, but they may hear what you say in a different way than you intended for it to be heard. Then the people who hear you, they respond to you on the basis of what they thought they heard you say, and how they felt about what they thought you were saying. Then you hear what they said, but you may not know exactly what they meant when they said what they said, but you think maybe you do and so you respond to what you think maybe they said.
Are you confused? That is exactly how confusing this whole matter of communication and talking in family can really be.
We have learned in this series that the glue of the family is commitment. When a man and a woman come together to form a family, they are joined together! Commitment is the glue that holds us together. It is the glue which ties a family together.
But the oil of a family is communication. It is the oil which makes things run smoothly in the family. It is the oil of conversation and communication which helps us to relate to one another effectively and to say the things we want to say in the way we want to say them.
I'm going to talk to you today about how to have a family conversation. I realize that I have a major liability. I'm a man. Men are not real good when it comes to communication in the family. In truth, Ive had some 48 years to try and figure some of this stuff out. I have been trying for over 48 years to learn how to communicate in the family; the first 18 in my birth family; the last 30 years in my new family. I'm a slow learner and so I'm just doing the best I can to take what I'm learning and pass it on to you.
When surveys are made about marriages that do not make it, 86% of those surveys reported that there was a breakdown in communication. Most people simply do not know how to communicate!
So often when a couple is engaged and getting ready to get married, one of the main things which they seem to have with one another is the ability to talk and communicate. You will hear these engaged couples talking like this. We just love to be together. We just stay up late at night talking, and I just feel so free and open with him (or her). It's just marvelous. We are soul mates. We connect with one another.
Then when difficulties come and unfortunately when marriages do not make it, you begin to hear things like this. We just didn't understand one another. We just didn't talk with one another anymore. Somehow we just couldn't seem to talk to one another anymore.
So there is something that happens in marriages that sabotages the whole matter of communication and sometimes there is something that happens in families which hinders families from communicating with one another they way they want to.
I have chosen Ephesians 4 to talk to you about how to have a family talk because I think it is the clearest passage in the entire Bible on the subject of communication.
There are many kinds of communication.
· There is the communication of time. When you spend time with a person, you are communicating concern and care and interest in them.
· There is the communication of gifts. When you give somebody something, you are communicating with them.
· There is the communication of touch. When you touch someone you are communicating with them.
But I'm thinking primarily today in terms of communicating with words. When you read what these verses have to say about words and the importance of communicating by words, you learn some crucial principles about how to have a family talk.
When was the last time you sat together with your family and had a good talk? What took place on that occasion? Was it productive? Was it fruitful? Was it fulfilling?
I want to share with you some things in our relationships that we need to eliminate and there are some things to integrate and then there are some things to appropriate. Let me share with you the steps we need to take if we are going to improve communications in our families. I want to take these verses and preach for a while on the subject: Lets Talk!
Ill. If we are going to hear one another, we must:
I. ELIMINATE SOME PROBLEMS
(There are some problems which must be eliminated from the whole matter of communication if we are going to talk with one another the way we should. Let's move down through these verses and eliminate the problems.)
· In verse 25 he says, Wherefore putting away lying. You have to eliminate dishonest elements. You have to eliminate lying. Lies in a family are the termites of trust. When you lie to your mate or your children or your parents, these lies become termites that eat away at trust. Lies can be lethal in a family. When you speak lies and when you deal with your family on the basis of lies, it can be deadly to your family.
According to the Bible we are all born liars. Psalm 58:3 says, The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies. So we are born with a sinful nature. We are born knowing how to tell lies. Unfortunately, many liars simply improve with age.
So you have to learn to eliminate lying. You have to take away these things that are not pleasing and these things that ought not to be said. You commit yourself to honesty. You commit yourself to being honest with one another in your conversations.
· Here's the second element you have to eliminate in verse 29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. Not only do you eliminate the dishonest elements in your family talks, but you also have to eliminate these distasteful elements. These corrupt communications!
The word corrupt there is a word that was used to refer to overripe fruit or rotten fish. There are some elements of corrupt communication that we have to get out of our family conversations. There is a process of corrupt communication that happens in a family.
The process is like this. Sometimes it starts with complaining. There is a place for registering legitimate complaints in the family. Most of us, however, find a sore and we pick at it hoping for a reaction.
At other times it is complaining that is attached to blame. It moves from complaining to criticism. We begin to criticize the other members of the family.
We hear words like this. You never can do anything right. You are always like that. Why are you so prone to make mistakes like that? It gets into the critical mode. (Ill. By the way, no one ever, never or always does anything.)
After that it moves into contempt. Then the person begins to have contempt for other members of the family. You hear words like this. You are so stupid. You are so dumb. How can you be so ugly? This is all corrupt communication. This is stuff that ought to be eliminated from our relationships with one another.
· Not only does it say we are to eliminate lying, and not only does it say we are to eliminate corrupt communication, but in verse 31 there are some dangerous elements that need to be eliminated from our family talks.
Ψ Verse 31 says, Let all bitterness be put away. Bitterness is anger turned in. It refers to a bitter root that produces a biter fruit. It is poison to a family when we become bitter and let our bitterness interfere with our family.
Ψ Beware of bitterness but we must also avoid wrath. The word wrath The word means an explosion. It means an eruption. We get the word thermos and thermonuclear from it. There are some families that the person who blows up the quickest and the person who makes the biggest scene is the one who wins the family argument. The Bible says you have to eliminate that.
Ψ The next word is, Anger. This word means rising anger. It means to become red faced. It is the idea of someone holding onto their anger as it grows and grows. It is the picture of rising anger. It is the picture of brooding over things and allowing them to take root in the heart.
Ψ Then it says, Clamor. That words means loud speaking. It refers to shouting. In some families the one who talks the loudest is the one who wins the argument. The one who can shout the most is the one who subdues all the rest in the family. That's not always the parents, by the way.
Ψ Then he mentions Evil speaking. This phrase refers to injurious speech. It is an attempt to hurt another person with our words. This happens when we talk down to people; when we say hurtful things to others; when we use words to wound. We must be careful when we speak in anger. We will say things then that we would never say otherwise!
I. Eliminate Some Problems
II. INTEGRATE SOME PRINCIPLES
You integrate some basic principles in your family talks.
· Look at verse 25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak truth with his neighbor. You say that's talking about neighbors. Well, your closest neighbors are the members of your family. So you put in your family and in your family talks the element of truthfulness. You build on truthfulness, speaking the truth. Somebody says, That's right down my line, preacher. I tell them the truth in my family. I give them a piece of my mind. You better be careful, you may not have a lot of that to spare.
· Look at verse 15. But speaking the truth in love. Some people claim they are being truthful when the truth of the matter is that they are being brutal. You can be cruel with the truth. Just because something is true does not means that it must be said!
· At this point in time I want to mention the a family altar. We are told to speak the truth in love. Our families must be built upon truth in our relationships, but we must also be careful to bring truth into our homes! That is absolutely vital if a family is going to be what it ought to be and is going to have the kind of communication that it ought to have.
Turn to Deuteronomy and look at this beautiful Old Testament pattern for a family altar. Read Deut:6:4-9. That's a good pattern for a family altar. There should be a time when we sit down with our families, open the Word of God and share truth with those in our homes. We should take the time to pray together and seek God as a family! We must talk about the Lord to our families. We must talk to the Lord about our families.
Mom and Dad, your sons and daughters are heading out to school. They are going into a culture that is hostile to everything you and I believe. It is hostile to the Bible. It is hostile to the church. It is hostile to the Lord Jesus Christ. All the powers of hell have assailed the young people of this country. How can we imagine sending them out into that world until we have first filled them with the truth of God and prayed for Gods protective hand to rest upon them? Put God's truth in your family. The truth of the Word of God!
· There are several levels of communication in a family. Not only do you have truthfulness, but go back to Eph. 4:29. The negative side of communication is, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth. The positive side of communication is but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
This means that we are to not only put truthfulness in our family conversations, but we must also be sure to include the element of kindness. That which is good to the use of edifying.
· We must have our family altars. We must bring the truth of God into our homes. We must pray for His power and presence to be upon us as we live in this world. But, we must also learn how to communicate with one another.
· There will be times when we must deal with issues that arise within our families. We must learn to handle those issues properly. So, lets talk about those times when we must have a family conference.
Problems will arise in our families. When they do, they must be dealt with. When problems must be addressed within our families, we need to keep a few simple matters in mind.
1. Learn to attack the problem and not people. Do you know what donkeys do when they are threatened? They will form a circle, facing the enemy. They begin to kick, and they just kick one another. You are smarter than a donkey! So are horses. They put their heads together and kick the enemy, not one another! When problems arise in our families, or in our churches, we should attack the enemy and not one another.
2. Learn to fix the problem and not the blame. Don't always be looking for someone to blame for the problem. Let every member of the family have the opportunity to express themselves. Every member of your family is to be a valued member of the family. Everyone is precious to God. God has given you that family unit and every member deserves to be listened to, deserves to be respected and deserves to be heard. Listen to one another and focus on the problem and not the person!
(Ill. Sometimes in family meetings you have to use two strategies. Sometimes you have to hold the bucket. Have you ever held the bucket? I mean by that that sometimes you just listen to the other person. Just hold the bucket.
Now, most of us men, when we hear the problem, we have the immediate solution. But there are times when you just hold the bucket. You keep your mouth shut. You just let them fill up the bucket. They tell you all about the problem. They tell you how they feel about the problem. They tell you the emotions that are going on. You just nod. You are holding the bucket.
I am advocating the development of a family structure in which all members of the family are encouraged to be open and honest about their lives. I am advocating a family setting where the life of every member is important. I am advocating a situation in which we all learn to listen to one another.
Turn to James 1:19. This is a great verse that we would do well to heed. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. Swift to hear means to be a good listener. We must learn to listen. When somebody in the family wants to tell you something you learn to listen. Look at them.
Some of us men really pride ourselves on being able to do six or seven things at the same time. We can be clicking the TV channels. We can be doing our Income Tax. We can be cutting our toenails, and talking to the wife. We're real proud of our selves. But there might be some times when you need to turn that TV off and look at one another. When somebody else is talking, lean in and listen to them. Give affirmative words to let them know that you are listening.
Learn to share with one another and rejoice when something good happens. When something unpleasant has happened, learn to weep with one another. Learn to gather around one another.
But there are times that you put up the mirror. By putting up the mirror you help them see the problem by questions and by kind responses you make to help them really see what's going on. So you fix the problem not the blame by listening to the whole situation.
3. Learn to keep it private, not public. You don't need to air all your family's dirty laundry to everyone. One of the most damaging problems in some families is that every mistake any member of the family has ever made becomes the subject of conversation with people outside the family. (Ill. What I have heard coworkers say.) Keep it private not public.
4. Learn that when you bring it out, pray it up. Bring God into the situation. Bring God into that matter. Take it to Him and leave it with Him. He knows all about it and He knows how to handle it. In the midst of trying times, always include the Lord in your trials.
I. Eliminate Some Problems
II. Integrate Some Principles
III. APPROPRIATE SOME PROMISES
· As I went studied these verses I found that every member of the Trinity is mentioned. In verse 30 you have the mention of God the Holy Spirit. And grieve not the Holy Spirit. God the Father shows up in verse 32. And, we find God the Son mentioned in Eph. 5:2. The presence of the Trinity should give us encouragement as we seek to govern our families according to the Word of God. Praise God, we have all the help we need to do what we have been called to do. Consider the following.
· We have the presence of the Holy Spirit. God's Holy Spirit is the unseen guest in your family. He is grieved when we refuse to live like the new creatures He has made us in Christ, cf. vv. 25-29; 31-32.
· In verse 32 the Bible speaks of God the Father. Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. We have the power of God the Father. If your family is a Christian family, God is there. What is the power of God going to do? For one thing it'll help you forgive. Sometimes it takes more of the power of God for you to learn to forgive some members of your family than it did for God to create the universe. The power to forgive! The power of God will create unity, love and peace in our homes!
· In Eph. 5:2 we read about God the Son. Walk in love as Christ has loved us and has given himself for us. We have the peace of Christ in our families when we learn to communicate like Him. How did Jesus speak? He spoke the language of love. His love caused Him to go to the cross of Calvary, Rev. 1:5. Your family needs large doses of love in every area of your lives together. That love is yours if you know Jesus, but you must appropriate it, Rom. 5:5; 13:8-10.
· So, we must allow the Spirit of God to work in our families. We must allow God the Father to work in our families. We must allow the Son of God to work in our families.
· When we learn to communicate in ways that please the Lord, it changes all of our relationships.
I heard about a woman who went to a counselor. She was very upset at her husband. She said, I am tired of that man. I'm going to divorce that man. But I'm not going to just divorce him, I'm going to destroy him and I want you to tell me how to do it.
He said, I tell you what you do. If you want not only to divorce him but destroy him in the process, you go home and act as if everything is fine. You praise him and honor him and are responsive to him. Cook him his favorite meals. Tell him how wonderful he is. Tell him that he is your hero. Tell him that he is your everything. Do this for several days and then finally when you got him in that situation, hit him with both barrels and tell him you are going to divorce him and absolutely take everything he has. He won't have a thin dime when you're through with him. She said, 'I'll do that.
Several months went by and he didn't hear from her. So the counselor decided to call her. He said, Are you about ready for that divorce?
She said, What divorce? I'm married to the most wonderful man in all the world. Who would want to divorce him?
You might be surprised what a little praise and a little respect and a little love might do in your family!
Conc: One of the best things we could ever do for our families is to learn to communicate with one another. We need to learn to express our feelings and concerns in the right manner. We need to learn to communicate with our families about the Lord and what He is doing in our lives. We need to learn to listen to one another, respect one another and love one another in the right ways for the glory of God.
How are your communication skills? Could you, or your family, benefit from a time of talking to the Lord about how you could be better communicators?
Look at your spouse. Look at your children. Look at you extended family. Look at your church family. They deserve you love, your attention and your ear. Dont you think its time we simply learned to communicate with one another?