“Don’t use that tone of voice with me, mister!”

The other day my wife brought in a “newsletter” from the homeowners’ association. It began with a paragraph on how it’s spring and time to start making the properties look nice. It went on to say that several new people had moved in since the last newsletter. The remainder of the “newsletter” talked about fines people can expect and legal action if things aren’t done like the board members–elected by the homeowners–want things done. I guess the idea of mentioning the new folks was to let them know just exactly what they have gotten themselves into when they moved into the neighborhood.

It’s just not a friendly newsletter. It didn’t welcome the new folks to the neighborhood. It didn’t tell me anything that was “newsy” at all. It just lambasted us all in advance. It concluded saying that the board would be coming around on a walk through to inspect. That’s only one of the reasons I don’t care for this property!

When I was a kid, I might not have been the perfect gentleman that I, of course, now am. I may have once or twice spoken rudely my folks. I can remember hearing, “Don’t use that tone of voice with me, mister!” It’s all about how we talk to people that can make me a friend or an instant enemy. It’s about tone of voice. The board member who wrote the “newsletter” doesn’t understand Biblical principles.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. . . [1 Timothy 5:1]

It’s about Respect, which is due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others. Matthew Henry comments “Respect must be paid to the dignity of years and place. The younger, if faulty, must be rebuked, not as desirous to find fault with them, but as willing to make the best of them. There is need of much meekness and care in reproving those who deserve reproof.” I disagree with Mr. Henry. I don’t see in Paul’s message that the young are to be rebuked, but despite that Mr. Henry cautions that it isn’t about finding fault, but helping make them better. Paul suggests we are to speak to others as if they were our fathers, brothers, sisters. Mr. Henry speaks to the need of much meekness and care in our speech.

Many years ago, a traffic police officer in Ontario, California, Officer Orr, had been on the job for nearly thirty years. In all that time, he had never written a traffic violation, yet when people saw him they sat up straight and checked their speed. Were these drivers afraid of Officer Orr’s rage should they be stopped? No. Quite the contrary, he spoke with each person gently, explaining why it was important for them to follow the traffic laws. He went into great, graphic, detail on the results of accidents in which he and others had encountered, and described the injuries. It took quite a while for Officer Orr to quietly explain the facts to these could-be accident victims. Quite a while. A quiet word does wonders.

A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (Proverbs 15.1,2)

The point of our righteous and pure speech is to show that we respect the person to whom we are speaking. The feeling I get from too many things I read, hear these days is that the person looks at me with distain. This disdain may be construed as judging. Paul wrote to the Romans (2.3-5): “But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. . .”

My mother often said, “Chickens come home to roost.” She meant that how I treat someone will come back to me someday. If I treat you with respect, then I will earn respect. If I treat you with disdain, I will earn disdain–not only from you, but one day from others, too.

We do well to acknowledge our sins, our errors, and confess them to our Lord in prayer. Our repentance puts us on the righteous path with our Lord.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .Numbers-6-24-26 - 1

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