Paul writes to the Ephesians that their words are to give “grace”. (Eph. 4:29) I read recently that 5 out of 6 sentences that we speak are negative. Listen to conversations around you today and ask one question, “Did that word, sentence, or conversation elevate and edify?”
We have difficulty speaking grace to others because we lack a “grace vocabulary.” Our culture magnifies cynicism, sarcasm, demeaning wit, and lurid indulgence. The Bible says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” ( Phil. 4:8)
A grace vocabulary is not just the right words but also the right attitude. Below are four steps to enlarge your “grace vocabulary.”
1. Start with a positive. Begin every conversation with a positive about the person you are talking to, or with something edifying about the day itself.
2. Avoid Generals and Ghosts. When we get angry it is easy to say to someone, “You are always …” (a generalization) and “Everyone says …” (who is everyone? Ghosts!)
3. Action. Words follow actions. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies and Paul said that we are to feed our enemies. An attitude with a large grace vocabulary starts with action – serve someone.
4. Ask questions. A sincere desire to know someone begins with questions. Those with the largest grace vocabulary learn to be more interested in others than self.
My father had a huge grace vocabulary. He didn’t speak a foreign language and he didn’t graduate college with a degree in English. But he was a master at the timely encouraging word. I still remember whenever I would confront a problem he would say, “We can fix this.” The “we” meant that he would help me and that we could do it together!
To this day when I confront a difficulty, I think of my heavenly Father and His words to me that, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” It is easy for me to believe my heavenly Father because my earthly father said the same thing!