Today's section is verse 14:
So far, we have talked about communication problems like "politically correct" speech, and the perception of someone yelling at the hearer.
We've looked at verses that have told us to make sure our words are well-chosen, and that they are timed appropriately. We also discussed being faithful messengers of God's Word -- and a side note here -- that can cause some issues when we are communicating with some people! Being a faithful messenger includes speaking truthfully, even when the hearer is not interested in the truth. We looked at a "sandwich" strategy to help with that; but please bear in mind that it won't always work! There will be some who do not wish to hear what we have to say. There will be others who will take offense at our words, where no offense is meant. In those cases, we simply must remember the example of our Lord, who did not retaliate:
There are verses in the gospels that repeat the fact that in front of the High Priest, and in front of Pilate, Jesus was silent. That doesn't mean that we must endure and not defend ourselves..... we have covered that before. But it does bring up the point that if people rejected Him, His message, and His plan, we cannot reasonably expect to be accepted all of the time!
Today's verse talks about "being real." We hear about that a lot, don't we? Many people will listen half-heartedly to what a believer says, and then say, "Get real, I don't believe you!"
Some folks use that a lot because they have a problem "being real" themselves. There is so much shallowness and fakery in their lives that they simply have trouble believing that other people are genuine.
Others have been let down or disappointed by those they trusted, those they thought were sincere.
The metaphor the writer uses here comes from the agricultural side of things. Clouds and wind usually mean that there is rain coming. Farmers rely on the rain from those storms to soften the ground for planting, to enable the seed to germinate, and to encourage the crops to grow.
If there are clouds rolling up and a breeze freshening, the farmers are optimistic that the rain is coming. However, if no rain comes, they are keenly disappointed! Clouds without rain symbolized promises without results in the Hebrew's way of thinking. It meant show without performance; it meant dashed hopes; it meant crushed dreams. In years of drought and the famine that ensued, clouds and wind with no rain were promises that were not real.
The writer likened these concepts to talk of feigned generosity. People (especially believers) should not promise what they cannot deliver. If we know we cannot follow through, we should not promise.
We have all been in the company of people who are not genuine. Some claim that they will give presents or donations, but never keep their promises. Some claim they will complete a task, but never truly finish the job. Perhaps there are extenuating circumstances that keep the person from doing what they say -- we're not talking about them. We are talking about braggarts (see the word "boast" in our verse?) who want to pull the wool over our eyes.... they either want us to believe they have money, capability, or power that they don't possess, or they want us to believe them generous or capable when they are not!
Communicating well requires that we be genuine -- we must "be real." There is integrity in wise speech that brings refreshing. In all our speech we must avoid promising what we cannot deliver. If we do not keep our promises, we frustrate and eventually anger our hearers; then we cause our reputation and our witness to fail.
The Word of God is solid, practical, and real. When our speech is guided by the Word, we will be faithful messengers. There is power in the Word of God to change lives, and when the Word is used by the Spirit within us, true life change can happen!
Let's be real!