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How Are You Communicating with Your Words and Actions?

One of the most significant things I learned from my mother is to live her favorite scripture:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). My mother and I know, as I imagine you do, too, that this scripture—The Golden Rule—is sometimes difficult to practice in everyday life.

Who among us has not fallen short in communication and actions consistent with The Golden Rule? Perhaps you have said or done something that was intentionally or unintentionally hurtful or harmful to a family member, friend, acquaintance, colleague, or stranger? Maybe you have hurt or harmed someone in a one-on-one conversation, in a group setting, over the phone, with an email, or through social media?

God forgives us when we ask for forgiveness in falling short in our treatment of others. However, God also expects each of us to live as best as possible the words of Jesus in The Golden Rule.

The United Methodist Church provides excellent guidelines for how we should treat people individually and collectively in all times and places. And so, I encourage you to join me in working to practice the guidelines as described in the article below consistent with The Golden Rule.

*Guidelines for Holy Conferencing: What God Expects of Us

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly … And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him (Colossians 3:12-16a, 17).

Every person is a child of God. Always speak respectfully. One can disagree without being disagreeable.

  • As you patiently listen and observe the behavior of others, be open to the possibility that God can change the views of any or all parties in the discussion.
  • Listen patiently before formulating responses.
  • Strive to understand the experience out of which others have arrived at their views.
  • Be careful in how you express personal offense at differing opinions. Otherwise dialogue may be inhibited.
  • Accurately reflect the views of others when speaking. This is especially important when you disagree with a position.
  • Avoid using inflammatory words, derogatory names, or an excited and angry voice.
  • Avoid making generalizations about individuals and groups. Make your point with specific evidence and examples. · Make use of facilitators and mediators.
  • Remember that people are defined, ultimately, by their relationship with God – not by the flaws we discover, or think we discover, in their views and actions.
  • We believe Christians can discuss important issues without the acrimonious debate and parliamentary maneuvering that can divide a group into contending factions. We see too many examples of that in secular society. We believe the Holy Spirit leads in all things, especially as we make decisions. We want to avoid making decisions in a fashion that leaves some feeling like winners and others like losers.
  • We can change the world through honest conversation on matters about which we are passionate.”

*(This work is based on the guidelines for “Holy Conferencing” that emerged from the United Methodist “Dialogue on Theological Diversity” in February 1998 and continues to be practiced by many United Methodists today.)

How Are You Communicating with Your Words and Actions?

Pastor Hoyte

What Are Your Favorite Scriptures?

One of the most powerful ways of getting to know one another is by sharing our favorite Scriptures. I’ve listed “Ten of My Favorite Scriptures” and the reasons I selected them. I invite you to share some of your favorites, too! This kind of sharing can deepen and enrich our lives of faith and relationship-building in the life of the church.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.” Everyone needs a time of worship to become centered, refreshed, rested and renewed.

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” Our lives can become overwhelming with all kinds of “doing” activities and so God calls us to take more time to simply “be” and find moments of stillness.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” This passage, selected by my wife Terri and me for our wedding day, has kept me focused in our 32 years of marriage.

Micah 6:8 “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” This was one of my father’s favorite Scriptures. In a world that often condones actions of injustice, hatred, mean-spiritedness and self-serving pride, God encourages us to live into a higher calling in life.

Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” This is one of my mother’s favorite Scriptures. The world would be a much better place if more people would truly model this kind of treatment with others.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Remember that all of us are carrying heavy loads in life and the only One that can truly give us relief is God in Jesus Christ.

Matthew 22:37-40 “He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” This is easier said than done, but if we love God first and foremost we will become a beautiful, accepting and loving reflection of God in our interactions with ALL people.

Mark 1:17 “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’” I love to fish for fish, but there is nothing more fun and rewarding than catching people to develop a relationship with God and Jesus!

John 3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Many people are familiar with John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life;” but the scripture immediately following is often overlooked as a central message of Christians and churches: SAVING not condemning words and actions.

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is a very hopeful and promising message when people are feeling hopeless and as if God is absent, very distant or may have stopped loving them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Would you like to share some of your favorite Scriptures?

In Christ,
Pastor Hoyte