How to Temper Your Tone

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?
“Not your wife, she is always so sweet,” my neighbor said.  My husband was teasing me about being difficult to please and demanding as our neighbor finished the installation of my new dishwasher.
 
I smiled as my neighbor left and wondered if my husband was thinking how his wife’s sweet words could turn sour at times.  Sad how we are so sweet to others and hurt the ones we love the most.  
On our way to the golf course the next morning my husband asked me to call someone for him as he drove.  Flustered with rushing to get ready, and trying to drink my breakfast shake, I blurted out, “Why do I have to do it now, can’t you wait until we get to town?”
 
He graciously responded, “Was it necessary to speak to me in that tone?”  What a wise man I have.  He could have fueled the fire by being as rude as I was.  But instead he spoke the truth in love.  And the truth hurts.  I’m so glad he loves me enough to confront me with my behavior.
 
Why is it so easy to temper our tone at work or at church and then allow our tone to turn sour at home and cause offense and hurt those closest to us.  Sometimes I think we get away with it and are not held accountable in a loving way by our spouse or whoever is in our home.  It takes someone being willing to tell us how we hurt them and suggest ways to improve our behavior.
 
My husband, a counselor by training, uses his skills and compassion with other family members as well.  It is never too late to confront. 
 
His mother (in her eighties) was very controlling and “ruled the roost” as the saying goes for many years.  His father (in his nineties) was a very kind, gracious man and allowed her to dominate him. 
 
His father was placed on antidepressant medication which made him aggressive. 
One day when she was sharp in talking to him, he replied gruffly and told her to leave him alone.  She was hurt and later told her counselor son “your father was so ugly to me today.” 
 
This gave my husband the opportunity to speak the truth in love to his mom.  No one ever talked to her about how unkind she was to her sweet man.  She struggled but submitted to allowing God to change her attitude and her words. 
 
Just a few months later, her last words as she collapsed in her son’s arms were, “Please let me go – I need to check on your father.”



 
I’m so thankful my husband did not wait to challenge me with my attitude and tone.   I pray God will help me to think before I speak.  Also may my words and attitude show my husband he is the most important person in my life, and I love him enough to allow him to confront me when I am unkind.


  •    Do we use a different tone when talking to our family than we use with clients,
    neighbors or friends?
  •    Are we quick to say hurtful things or be impatient with our loved ones?
  •    Are we willing to love enough to be confronted with our behavior and attitude?

 

Father please help us to be clothed with your compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to the ones we love the most.
 
God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

 

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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