It Helps to Talk About It
1 God’s Word says much about proper use of the tongue. (Jas. 3:1-10) While many situations require restraining the tongue from speaking altogether, there definitely is a “time to speak,” a time when well-chosen words are “as apples of gold in silver carvings.” (Eccl. 3:7; Prov. 25:11) A good word from the “tongue of the wise ones is a healing,” a sharp contrast to thoughtless, inconsiderate babbling.—Prov. 12:18.
2 Of course, as imperfect humans we all sin with our tongue or may in other ways offend fellow believers. (Jas. 3:2; 1 John 1:8) Appreciating that we are in need of forgiveness should certainly cause us to be merciful with our brothers, not making issues of minor matters. However, if a person is really troubled and simply cannot put a certain minor offense out of mind and heart, he would not improve the situation by refusing to talk to the offender. Such silence might breed suspicion and distrust, widening the breach that already exists. On the other hand, a few minutes of understanding conversation may put an end to long-standing grievances.—Matt. 5:23, 24; Eph. 4:26.
3 Kind words not only contribute much toward improving relationships but also serve to encourage and to build others up. Do we not all experience discouragement? The old system exerts tremendous pressure upon us. It is becoming more difficult to make a living. Surely, then, we benefit from the encouraging word of a thoughtful friend. An expression of kindness, an upbuilding thought from the Bible, or even a friendly greeting may be just the “good word” needed to make our hearts rejoice.—Prov. 12:25.
4 Especially when our thoughts and meditations center on spiritual things will our conversations be upbuilding. (Phil. 4:8) An added blessing that results therefrom is that spiritual things are impressed more deeply upon our minds and hearts. And do we not have many good things to talk about? These might be outstanding points we have read in the Watch Tower publications, Biblical passages that particularly impressed us while doing personal study, or things called to our attention at congregational meetings. An encouraging experience can also “impart what is favorable to the hearers.”—Eph. 4:29.
5 There are times when it requires courage to make good use of the tongue. Especially is this the case when someone close to us becomes guilty of serious wrongdoing and simply tries to conceal it. Strong emotional feelings may weigh heavily upon us, causing us to want to refrain from speaking to the elders about the matter. But it would really be a distorted sense of loyalty if we were to pass over the serious wrongdoing of someone else. (Deut. 13:6-8) Then, too, it would not be a kindness to the wrongdoer, as it could deprive him of needed spiritual help from the elders and cause him to become hardened in a course of sin. Furthermore, we would be showing a lack of concern for the cleanness of the congregation, exposing it to reproach. We could actually be denying our claim of loyalty to Jehovah and his law, possibly endangering our own standing before him. So, while it might be difficult to speak out, would it not be the right and beneficial course for all concerned?
6 No question about it, communication at the right time is vital in preserving the peace and harmony of the congregation. That is why elders should rightly be concerned about setting a fine example in this respect when caring for their responsibilities. In matters that have a considerable effect on people’s lives, an elder acts with insight when he does not make a decision on his own but consults fellow elders. As Proverbs 15:22 says: “There is a frustrating of plans where there is no confidential talk, but in the multitude of counselors there is accomplishment.” Elders who appreciate this do not limit discussions to their four meetings a year but take time to consult one another about problems and suggestions as well as to make sure that important matters are known by the entire body.
7 Occasionally, when the elders meet, mention may be made of a brother or sister who in some way is failing to set a good example. Perhaps a decision is made not to use the person for demonstrations in the service meeting nor to appoint him or her as a temporary pioneer, or the like. When that is the case, the person would be benefited if the elders tried to help that one to become a better example. A failure to communicate could give rise to feelings of resentment or discouragement. Love should prompt such shepherds to give needed aid.
8 How happy we can be that the Bible gives us excellent guidelines for using the tongue aright! May all of us work hard to follow these, thereby contributing to the joy and upbuilding of our brothers.
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Awake! Contains What People Need to Know.