The two most important types of communication are between man and God and between human beings. Communication is more than just our ability to talk, but also to listen. As we communicate with God, the first part of that communication is listening. God’s primary ways of communication with us are through His Word (Romans 10:17) and by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). God speaks to all believers through the vehicle of the Bible, which is all we need to equip us for the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:16). In order to fully understand God’s communication with us, we must be diligent to read, study, memorize, and meditate on His Word. Trying to shortcut this process by seeking extra-biblical revelations or “hearing” God’s voice is not only unscriptural, but opens us up to the deception of our own fallen nature (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 3:5) or worse, the deception of demons who are always looking for inroads into our minds (1 Peter 5:8).
The function of the Holy Spirit’s communication with us is first to convict us of sin (John 16:7-11), then to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). When Jesus went away, His disciples were greatly distressed because they had lost His comforting presence. But He promised to send the Spirit to comfort, console, and guide those who belong to Christ. The Spirit also “bears witness” to our spirits that we belong to Him, and thereby assures us of salvation (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7). The Spirit communicates with the Father on our behalf, interceding and praying for us before the throne, especially when we are weary and downhearted and unable to pray for ourselves (Romans 8:26).
Our primary mode of communication with God is prayer. We are to go to God in prayer for all our needs. When we lack something, God says that it is not from His inability to provide but from our lack of diligence to ask or asking with the wrong motives (James 4:2-3). Even Jesus prayed regularly because of the limitations He took upon Himself in human form (Luke 3:21; Mark 1:35; Matthew 26:36). No longer able to communicate with God face to face, as He did in heaven, Jesus prayed often and fervently to reestablish intimate communication with the Father. We are to follow His example and “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Second, we must examine how we communicate with our fellow man. It goes without saying that no “filthy communication” should escape from the lips of a Christian, whether said in jest or in earnest (Colossians 3:8). James speaks clearly on this subject in James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When we speak in anger, we fail to show God’s love. Whether speaking to a family member or a stranger, our communication should always come forth in a loving manner. Otherwise, our testimony is damaged, as is the name of Jesus Christ when His people fail to guard their tongues. The best way to be sure what comes from our mouths is pure is to be aware of what is in our hearts. As Jesus reminded the Pharisees, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If our hearts are filled with ungodliness, it will eventually come forth in our speech, no matter how hard we try to restrain it. Of course, our most important communication to man should be the fulfillment of Matthew 28:19-20 as we communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that desperately needs to hear it.
Believers should constantly examine their communication. We should consider the tone of newer forms of communication such as email and text messaging. We should never allow the safety of a computer screen to lead us to harsh or ungodly words toward others. We should consider our body language and facial expressions toward others as well. Simply withholding words is meaningless when our body language communicates disdain, anger, or hatred toward another. When engaged in conversation, as we prepare to speak, we should ask ourselves these questions: Is it true (Exodus 20:16)? Is it kind (Titus 3:2)? Is it necessary (Proverbs 11:22)?