In today’s age, the word “communication” has come to mean much more than mere speaking and hearing. It has acquired a much wider usage that includes all kinds of verbal and non-verbal exchange of information. It covers signs and body language, and the word is even used in the context of the spread of diseases. The internet is fast replacing many traditional means of communication. It is therefore strange that the word “communication” can be found in the King James Bible of 1611 but is conspicuous by its absence in the modern versions of the Bible.
The King James Bible, first of all, warns us of the ill-effects of evil communication, “Be not deceived, evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) The internet, which feeds our world with a lot of good and useful information, is also undoubtedly the greatest source of evil communication. It has an abundance of images and videos full of vulgarity and obscenity open for all to see. It offers a lot of provocative and perverse material as well.
As individuals, we may not be able to do much about the internet problem, but there is another thing which can possibly be controlled by us and that is our tongue. The Bible has a very clear instruction in this regard, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) The accent here is on communication, which includes not only what we speak, but how we speak, our choice of words, our thoughts behind them, the manner in which we treat our audience. The Bible is very specific on this too, “Now you also put off all these, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” (Colossians 3:8)
While that is St Paul asking us to maintain the quality of our communication, Lord Jesus also puts a quantitative limit on our utterances, “Let your communication be Yea, Yea, or Nay, Nay. For whatsoever is more than these, cometh of evil.” (Matthew 5:37)
Finally, how are we to communicate our faith? As Paul tells Philemon, “The communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing, which is in you in Christ Jesus.” (Philemon 1:6)