Nov. 22, 2011 — Family dynamics at Thanksgiving dinners have provided the subject matter for a multitude of movie scripts and blogs.
Recently I received a press release on a how-to book about surviving holiday gatherings.
It discussed the type of conversation that can make family gatherings difficult, such as negative comments, barbs, self-pity and complaints.
However, I don’t need to purchase a survival guide because I am in the midst of a Bible study titled “The Power of a Woman’s Words,” and it provides insight into the use of language and the impact it has on those around us.
Did your mother ever say, “Think before you speak?” It was wise counsel, but it’s important to know what it is we should think about before speaking; what guidelines to follow when choosing our words.
In Philippians, one of the books of the Bible, we are counseled to do everything without complaining or arguing and that is a good start.
Imagine how pleasant Thanksgiving would be without any complaints or arguments.
The Bible goes further, however.
We are to replace complaints with thanksgiving.
How appropriate for this holiday.
Thanksgiving is actually an anecdote for complaining, so with this in mind be thankful for each person seated at the table instead of complaining about those who did not make the drive or purchase an airline ticket.
Or be thankful for the roast turkey instead of complaining because it was left in the oven a little too long and is dry.
The second part of that scripture advises us to refrain from arguing.
The Webster Dictionary defines “argue” as contending or disagreeing in words.
Do we really need to argue about ingredients to put in the stuffing or where people should be seated at the table? Of course there are other subjects that cause disagreements, such as politics.
These topics should be discussed, not argued.
The book of Proverbs in the Bible is loaded with wise counsel.
For example, when someone is argumentative, don’t push back.“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” [Proverbs 15:1]
My favorite guideline for appropriate speech is Ephesians 4:29 which states: “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.”
For wholesome conversation to take place there must be restraint of unwholesome talk; the selection of words that are helpful for building others up; the observation of another person’s needs; and consideration of the benefit to those who are listening.
What is unwholesome talk?
According to Webster’s Dictionary it is speech that is “detrimental to physical, mental or moral well-being.” It is “offensive to the senses.”
In the Bible study about speech I am in the process of completing, the author, Sharon Jaynes, said passing our words by the four requirements might stop them from passing our lips.
Fewer complaints, arguments and thoughtless speech will make the Thanksgiving gathering a memorable time.
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