Ambrose of Milan: Language full of kindness

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Everything you say should be kind and well thought out so that you know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

“Our language should be mild and quiet, and full of kindness and courtesy and free from insult. Let there be no obstinate disputes in our familiar conversations, for they are wont only to bring up useless subjects, rather than to supply anything useful. Let there be discussion without wrath, urbanity without bitterness, warning without sharpness, advice without giving offence. And as in every action of our life we ought to take heed to this, in order that no overpowering impulse of our mind may ever shut out reason (let us always keep a place for counsel), so, too, ought we to observe that rule in our language, so that neither wrath nor hatred may be aroused, and that we may not show any signs of greed or sloth.”

Ambrose of Milan (c. 339-397) in On the Duties of the Clergy, Book 1, Chapter XXII (CCEL).

Ambrose is the second of the Four Doctors of the Western Church that we will explore on the topic of kindness as it relates to generosity.

He instructs ministers to make sure that their language is full of kindness and does not show any signs of greed or sloth. The opposite of greed, of course, is generosity, and the opposite of sloth would be to speak with intentionality.

Does our language give people the impression that we are trying to get something from them or give something to them? The former tears down while the latter builds up. But how do we be sure to get this right?

The Apostle Paul tells us that everything we say should be kind and well thought out. So, to grow in generosity, may God help us be quick to listen, slow to speak, and when we do, let’s make it good.

I pray that the words that I said today as I serve the IJM Australia team today flow from listening well and speaking to build them up. I trained them through The Choice and The Sower.

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