Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gracious Speech

The following is an article I contributed to our church's bi-weekly newsletter.

On January 21, 1990, at the Australian Open in Melbourne, American tennis player John McEnroe became the first player since 1963 to be disqualified from a Grand Slam tournament for misconduct. McEnroe had earned a well-deserved nickname as the “bad boy” of tennis for his explosive temper. He was constantly challenging calls by linesmen and umpires and did so with a dramatic flair. In the 1990 Australian Open, he crossed the line one too many times with two smashed rackets and a profanity-laced verbal tirade against the umpire that the TV audience heard. His reward for his bad behavior was disqualification for unsportsmanlike conduct.

We jokingly discussed in staff meeting this past week some of our favorite pet peeves. All of us experience things that annoy us in the course of daily living. Sometimes those annoyances are irrational, while at other times they may well be justified. Whatever their source, we aren’t free to vent our frustrations on others in the style of John McEnroe. In Colossians 4:6, the apostle Paul offers us some great advice about our verbal response to others whose conduct vexes us: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to respond to each person.” Gracious speech is far more becoming to our Christian witness than a childish temper tantrum. Let’s commit ourselves to communicate grace by our words and actions.

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