Recently, during a personal time of communicating with God I found as I was processing my heart issues before Him – I became enlighten, by the Holy Spirit, that I had developed a pattern of communication with God in which during my (seemingly) prolonged times of distress what I began to do was “take issue with God.” What I realized along with my repentance is that as equally wrong as this communication pattern was with God – it is in the same extent as wrong in my communicating with others.
Perhaps the below article written by Rick Thomas with Counseling Solutions will help explain my experience further.
In Ephesians 5:1 we are exhorted to imitate God. God is a talking God. He is a speaking God. When we first catch a glimpse of His activity in the early pages of Genesis, He was speaking. He spoke throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament He sent his Son to speak to us.
After His Son left, He began speaking through the written Word and this is how He continues to speak to us today (2 Timothy 3:16). God is a speaking God and communicating effectively is one of the ways we can imitate Him.
How are you imitating God in the area of communication?
When we choose to be quiet when talking is the right response, we are in defiance of our Creator. Imagine if God copped an attitude and said,
I know I can talk, but I’m not going to talk. I’m not going to give you my words. I’m going to let you wonder what I’m thinking. We’re going to play a guessing game. Get used to it.
A non-talking God would lead to chaos. We would not know Him or how to relate to Him. Our life would be like what was described at the end of the book of Judges:
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. –Judges 21:25 (ESV)
Fortunately, God is a communicator. He talks to us. In fact, He is relentless in His communication. No one will be able to say, “I didn’t know.”
We are loved immeasureably by God. He cares for us as He carefully guides us by His Word (John 17:17). Our paths are not shaped by our culture, but by the sovereign hand of God as He lets us know how to live in His world.
However, if a person chooses not to talk he will bring chaos to his relationships. Rather than a dad’s kids receiving cheerful, hope-filled, practical, and constructive communication, they become teens who willfully distance themselves from their dads.
A harsh communicating dad has similar results. His children cower before his brutish ways until they are old enough to find solace and encouragement in someone else who will love, affirm, and encourages them.
Silence or harsh communication can have the same affect: internally chaotic children who end up rebelling, rather than being nurtured by the warm, encouraging, practical, and guiding hand of a speaking dad.
In my counseling experience there can be many reasons why a passive person chooses not to talk or why a person chooses to talk in an unkind way. I’ve listed six reasons, though there are more:
Stubbornness - To be stubborn is self-centered unwillingness. This is what we hope God will never do to us. It would be horrible for God to treat us in willful stubbornness. Stubborn Christian is a contradictory term.
One of the many ways a person can be stubborn in their communication is by their refusal to say, “I’m sorry” or to confess obvious sins or to pursue a spouse’s constructive observations.
Most Christian wives know many things about their husbands. Some of these things may not be known by the husband. What she knows and what she could share could serve her husband in his personal walk with God.
However, if he is stubborn in his communication and is not pursuing his wife through humble question-asking, then he could very well miss out on this means of sanctifying grace that God brought into his life through his wife.
Apathy - It is helpful to use bible language when thinking about categories. Apathy is not a solid bible category, though you can see this attitude in the personalities of the bible. A more biblically precise descriptor would be hatred.
An apathetic person is acting-out in what the bible would understand to be hatred. Apathy is the “I don’t care” attitude. This is not a passive or neutral attitude. It is an active attitude that follows the lines of hatred or a lack of love.
If you don’t actively love me, then you are actively hating me, whether you want to dress it up by calling it apathy or not.
If my son was in a traffic accident and was dying by the roadside and I walked by and said “I don’t care that you are dying” it would be hatred. Though not as physically damning as the illustration I just used, not to speak into someone else’s life is also a form of selfish-hate.
Anger - This attitude of the heart is not as dressed up as apathy. It is hate acted out. I’m not speaking so much about the exaggerated versions of anger that we may understand as road rage, murder or physical abuse, but about the softer forms of anger like silent treatment.
Anger is a spectrum behavior. On one end of the spectrum is murder. That is the worse case scenario. Christians do not typically murder people. However, we are not excluded from being angry. Therefore, we use more civilized and tolerated forms of murder, one of which we call the silent treatment.
In one sense, they both accomplish a similar goal. Murder says, “You do not exist because I removed you from this world.” Silent treatment says, “You do not exist because I have removed you from my mind.” In both cases there is a willful imposed silence.
As sophisticated Christians we can live for years with this kind of “low-grade anger” of non-communication. We can even justify our anger because we are not acting like some of the people we hear about through the news.
“At least I have not killed anyone” can be our self-righteous retort.
This is a very proud person who hiding in his quietness and justifying himself with false humility, while harboring anger. Un-removed hostilities can kill a marriage.
Fear - This is typically a motivator that I cannot fully develop here. I’ll just take one angle on this potentially life-dominating sin. Fear is code word for a person mired in self-absorbed thinking. A fearful person is not a trusting person.
A fearful person is more focused on their interests rather than God’s. God says, “Trust!”
Jesus asked Peter to get out of the boat and walk on the water with Him (Matthew 14:28). Peter, in the moment, was all about himself, wrapped up in fear. When he repented of his fear he did get out of the boat and walked with God.
If he had decided to stay on the boat, twisted in paralyzing fear, then he would have chosen the way of self rather than the way of God.
Fear is a foundational sin that can manifest itself in many ways. One of those ways is a sinful desire to not be exposed by communicating your thoughts to others.
A teen could be tempted to fear others by choosing not to communicate her thoughts. A husband could be tempted to fear by not being vulnerable before his wife.
In both cases above, Gospel of communication is trumped by fear.
Ignorance - A person can be willfully ignorant of God and God’s ways even though he may be a Christian. It simply has not occurred to him how his lack of communication is hurting his family. The power of words or the lack of words never registers with him.
When his daughter, who has been waiting for 10 years to be loved, nurtured, affected, and cared for by his kind, loving and wise words, becomes pregnant, he is clueless. He does not see how she waited and hoped until hope was dashed.
A young man came along and “swept her off her feet.” She was an angry teen looking for love, in large part because of a dad who was so into himself and ignorant of the damage he was causing due to his lack of words.
Similarly, a dad wakes up one day to a rebellious teen son who is full of anger and is now shopping his affection in video gaming, drugs, girls, work or whatever he can find for a modicum of encouragement. He is reacting in anger toward his non-encouraging, harsh, or non-speaking dad.
Arrogance - Code word here is self-righteousness, though all of the characteristics mentioned thus far would be born out of self-righteousness. This person looks down his nose toward others. He has a greater than attitude. There are certain people he doesn’t like.
He isolates himself in certain ways from his culture. Many times it is a select group of people he chooses to hate. He loves thin people, who are active, as opposed to obese people. He likes heterosexual people, but harbors a disgust for gay people.
He likes those who can carry a conversation of depth, but the shallow simple people he resents. His sin could be even more insidious as he withholds his affectionate and encouraging words from his family because of unresolved bitternesses.
According to him, they have not changed to meet his preferences.
A note to the talker
- How is your heart right now?
- Are you tempted to think of someone you know who is like what I have described?
- Are you married to such a person?
- Do you have a parent described above?
- How is your heart right now?
If you are tempted to sin as you reflect on the non-talkers in your life, then I want to remind you of the Gospel. Christ came to save sinners and you are one of those sinners He came to save. You are no different than your non-talking friend.
Yes, your non-talking friend needs help, but you won’t be able to help him if you are not guarding your heart well. Your friend may not be meeting your expectations, but he is not the only one who put Christ on the cross.
It was because of your sin and mine that Christ was nailed to the tree. If I’m the worst sinner that I know, which I am, then I can re-focus in this moment and love my sinning friend in a similar fashion in which Christ loved me (1 Timothy 1:15).
The best way to help a non-communicator is by communicating like God would communicate to him. Find a way to share your heart with real and practical observations. This is what God did to you. God’s Words began to penetrate your heart. In time your heart was opened to the Gospel and you began to change.
A note to the non-talker
You will need to determine if you’re going to imitate God in this crucial area of your life. I’m not asking you to become a “talking head.” Going from non-talker to talker does not mean you are supposed to be the life of the party. I’m merely appealing to you to repent. You can talk. This is a choice that you have to make.
You will need to decide if you will be motivated by the Gospel or not. Christ was our first missionary. He came to our dark place to change us, to make us better than what we were (Philippians 2:5-11).
He spoke the Gospel into our lives.
If you refuse to talk, while calling yourself a Christian, then you are mocking the very Gospel you claim to hold dear.
The Gospel is about others. Communication is one way we can model the other-centeredness of the Gospel in the lives of others. Communicating is not about what you can get out of the conversation, but about what you can invest into the conversation. Withholding your words is an act of unkindness.
Will you go?
Will you talk?
Will you imitate our speaking God today?