There are at least 4 ways people can communicate: They can be true, false, corrosive, and kind. Let me define the terms.
Let's be a little more clear about four ways we communicate.
- True - true. That was easy enough.
- False - not true. Amazing insight, no?
- Corrosive - Language that destroys. This is sarcasm, insults, communicating in a way that drips like acid, destroying people, relationships, and any future possibilities of sharing the gospel.
- Kind - Speaking the truth in love. Kind speech is honest, but the offense will never come from the manner or poorly chosen words, but only through the truth
slander. It’s not only mean, it’s not true.
When I was coaching, I would get vicious letters. I finally started giving them to my AD, who read them and let me know if there were legitimate complaints. As it turned out, these letters were both corrosive and false - not only were their criticism not true, but they dripped like acid on my self-confidence and our relationship.
2) We can say corrosive things that are true. Simon Cowell used to do this on American Idol all the time. One of his quotes: “If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning.” Now that was probably true, but...yikes. Once when I was in high school, a good friend with no filter said to me on our way to the beach, “You have the skinniest legs I've ever seen.” True? Perhaps. Corrosive? Absolutely. That was 30 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday.
Let’s try some real world examples of corrosive things we can say that relate more directly to our faith. First, some quotes from those who are not friendly to Christianity (I'm purposefully obscuring the speakers so as not to detract from the broader point. The quotes are real).