Conversation is such a precious medium too lightly appreciated or understood. It would be good to elevate it to where God would like to see it. There is an art to conversation, and it begins here. The Lord gave us two big commandments, not choices. The first is to love Him with everything we have, “and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Matthew 22:36-39 Today I want to talk about the conversations we have with others…you know, all sorts, from deep and meaningful's to light chatter and catching up. It is claimed that Queen Victoria once shared her impressions of her two Prime Ministers. Of William Gladstone, she said, "When I am with him, I feel as if I am with one of the most important leaders in the world." On the other hand, she confessed that when she was with Disraeli, he made her feel "As if I am one of the most important leaders in the world." The Lord tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves, but do we know what that means? Think back to the last conversation you had with someone. Was it about yourself or the other person? What was the predominant subject? Queen Victoria made an insightful observation of two different types of people, and how she felt after being in each one’s company. I guess most of us feel like that as well. I think we’ve all been in the company of people like that. In fact, if we’re really truthful, we’ve probably been a bit of both ourselves. I know I have. Which one do you think you are? A Gladstone or a Disraeli? If the words in a conversation were counted, how many of them would be about you? When John the Baptist made famous that timeless statement of humility in John 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease", he was referring to handing over the baton to Jesus Christ. It was to lift up Christ. Are we able to let ourselves disappear in conversations?
John the Baptist didn't need to speak of himself. His work spoke for him. Jesus raised up the name of John the Baptist, "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist:" (Luke 7:28a). Despite the greatness of John’s ministry and his personal renown, his office and calling were there to draw people to someone else entirely, Jesus Christ. In the same fashion, Jesus didn't seek His own greatness, either. He spoke of His Father’s greatness. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do:” John 5:19 God the Father was similar. He also raised up someone else, His Son. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” John 5:22 In these verses, we see the pattern of the heavenlies. Can we do the same? Can we make those inner changes for the express purpose that others may profit? It's not about stroking their ego, just putting them above us in conversation. After all, Paul tells us in Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” Why do we talk of ourselves in such high terms? Self-promotion seems to come from two separate pockets of our heart, both which need to be cleaned out.
Pride. This, like John the Baptist, should decrease until it is gone.
Insecurity. Our insecurity should also disappear as our reliance on Jesus increases and our security in ourselves dies off. Our security in Him must grow. Others will give us greater respect when we are secure enough to not talk about ourselves.
I have done plenty of talking about myself over the years from positions of both pride and insecurity. I know from experience that neither is wholesome, necessary or Godly.
How do we ever get to know people if our talking is mainly of ourselves? Don't we know ourselves enough by now? If we don't know others then are we really loving them as we love ourselves? It’s not hard to build up others and leave ourselves on the bench. It’s not imperative that we talk so much of our own stuff, is it? "But sometimes people don't talk. What do I do then?" I hear you say.
In conversation, we often need to go mining, asking questions and learning about others. It makes our chats really interesting. We already know about ourselves, but we don't know others, what makes them tick, why they think a particular way about something (without judgment), their families, work and a plethora of other bit-parts of our verbal relationships. It's our job to raise others up and to know them well, it should also be our joy. I think Queen Victoria had a good point. Today’s prayer: Dear Lord, thank for conversation and the ability for people to chat, laugh and discuss matters. You know I have elevated myself in conversations many times. Please help me to desire to decrease self-promotion.