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Communicate with Respect and Love

Keys to healthy relationships — Part 3

Doug Britton, MFT

Page Summary
Summary: Bible study on communication with practical biblical guidelines that will help you speak with respect and love in all your relationships.

Part 3 of a 3-part series on “Keys to Healthy Relationships”

Part 1      Part 2

The way you talk matters

God cares about the way we talk. In fact, there are numerous scriptures telling us how to talk. For example, the Bible says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).

As you can see, God says our words should be things of beauty, “like apples of gold in settings of silver.” But what does that mean?

Is God saying we should always speak with great eloquence or that we should speak in poetry? No, that’s not what he is saying. Let’s read three more proverbs that help us understand his point.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11)

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

God is telling us our words should be pleasant, offering healing and life.

Make it personal

1. Are your words things of beauty, “like apples of gold”?

2. Read Proverbs 18:21. What does this proverb mean?

Related: Listen to deeply understand

Choose to talk with wisdom and love

The key to life-giving conversations is to determine that you personally will talk in a loving, godly manner regardless of how other people talk. The way you talk is usually more important than whether you are right or wrong, whether others listen to you, or whether you get your way. In other words, the process usually is more important than the result.

This concept is foreign to most of us. We would rather focus on who is right or wrong than examine how we talk. It is as if we were in a court of law, interested only in winning our case. We may be relatively unconcerned about our bitterness, sarcasm, or anger. After all, we think, wisdom is on our side. But look at what the Bible says about wisdom.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (James 3:17)

Is it wrong to seek a solution when discussing a problem? No. But make this your secondary goal. Your main goal is to talk courteously. You may not “win” an argument, but you can walk away a winner in Christ because you loved other people and talked courteously. As Paul wrote:

We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. (1 Corinthians 8:1)

What do you think?

3. Read 1 Corinthians 8:1. What does this verse mean?

4. Do you agree that the way you talk is usually more important than whether you are right or wrong? Why or why not?

5. Are you willing to try to speak courteously, no matter what? Explain your answer.

Related: Talking with Love and Respect (book)

Guard your tongue

Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (Proverbs 16:32)

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Proverbs 15:2)

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36)

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)

Make it personal

6. Name one of the previous verses that will help you speak with love and respect. Why do you think it will help you? How can you remind yourself of it?

Speak politely

A big part of speaking courteously is being polite. Love, according to the Bible, “is not rude” (1 Corinthians 13:5).

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. (James 3:9-10)

Certain words and phrases make a big difference. Although we teach them to our children, we often neglect to say them ourselves. When we use these words, it is like oiling a squeaky hinge, mulching a garden, or putting icing on a cake. Life goes on if we neglect these things, but not nearly so pleasantly.

Make these words common in your conversations:


Thank you.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

I forgive you.

I love you.

I appreciate you.

Make it personal

7. How often do you use these words? How can you remind yourself to use them more frequently?

Ideas to help you speak with respect and love

As you read the following points, evaluate yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 on each point.

“0” means “I really need to work at this.”

“10” means “I do very well at this.”

I minister to others as I talk. My score (0-10): ____

I seek mutual resolutions, not personal victories. My score (0-10): ____

I don’t take criticism or suggestions personally. My score (0-10): ____

I forgive others. My score (0-10): ____

I control my anger. My score (0-10): ____

I share feelings and opinions without attacking. My score (0-10): ____

I make my point fairly quickly. My score (0-10): ____

I speak quietly. My score (0-10): ____

I use respectable language. My score (0-10): ____

I say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” My score (0-10): ____

I stay calm. My score (0-10): ____

I exercise self-control when I speak. My score (0-10): ____

I realize that people remember things differently. My score (0-10): ____

I allow others to have different opinions. My score (0-10): ____

Make it personal

8. Name two of the previous ideas to help you speak with love and respect with low scores. Explain why you gave yourself low scores.

9. Are you willing to work on raising the scores in these two areas? Why or why not? If you said “yes,” how will you remind yourself when you are talking with someone?

Memory verse

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life. (Proverbs 10:11)

Make it personal

1. What does this lesson suggest should be your goal when you talk with someone?

2. Do you agree with this goal? Why or why not?

3. If you agree with this goal, write a prayer asking God to help you put it into practice.

4. There are six short phrases listed in the section titled “Speak politely.” Choose one that you will try to say more often. Explain why you chose this phrase.

5. How easy is it for you to let other people have different opinions when you feel strongly about something?

a. Do you feel a need to argue until the other person changes his or her mind?

b. What are the results when you keep arguing?

c. Is it sometimes best to stop arguing and put the issue into Jesus’ hands? Why or why not?

6. Write out three verses in this lesson that speak to you personally.

a. The verse:

How it speaks to me:

b. The verse:

How it speaks to me:

c. The verse:

How it speaks to me:

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About Doug Britton, MFT

Doug Britton, Bible-based Marriage and Family Therapist, has helped hundreds of thousands of people as a therapist, clinical director of a treatment center, seminar speaker, radio cohost, and author of over twenty books that show how to apply God's truths in your daily life. (Visit www.dougbrittonbooks.com.)

Copyright © 2020 Doug Britton. Permission granted to print for personal use. (Scripture verses are from the New International Version, copyright © 1984.) See reprint policy.

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