Paul talked about it, and so did James and Peter. Jesus showed us how as He walked throughout Galilee. Mature Christians have demonstrated it for me, and for you. We must minister to each other with the words coming out of our mouths.
In person, over the phone, by text and e-mail, we have opportunities to love each other, to bear each other’s burdens. When a brother is angry, we should say something to calm him, to help him regain his composure. When a sister is sad and hurting, we ought to say something to lift her spirit. In every transaction, we must take advantage of opportunities to show God’s love to each other.
Don’t be shy, but do be careful.
In Ephesians 4.29, Paul tells us how to choose our words. “…(Say only) what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In this ministry, we must limit our words to what is helpful, according to their needs, to benefit the listener.” As an example, what can I say to a grieving brother or sister? “I’m so sorry for the pain you’re feeling… I love you and I’m praying for you… How can I help you carry this load?” But, make sure that you avoid ‘comforting words’ that can harm the listener. “God needed your dad more than you do… This is just another part of life; you’ll be fine… They’re in a much better place now.” Our ministry requires discretion and sensitivity.
Share opinions without trying to convince.
As a nation, Americans value free speech and strongly-held opinions. Jesus didn’t shy away from strong personalities (Peter, Simon the Zealot), but the apostle Paul put ministry above personal opinions. “Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” (1 Corinthians 9.19). And James highlighted the danger of a strong opinion without restraint, “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless” (James 1.26).
We are to be like-minded in Christ.
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it’” (1 Peter 3.8-11).