“What a difference.” Some thought to themselves, “Is he ok?” Others questioned and yet still others accused “He’s on drugs!” Many attacked his character and others made fun of his appearance. The once robust physique outlined with well defined muscles and athletic built was replaced by a fragile frame with skinny limbs covered in baggy clothes. His drawn face also bore evidence of his weight loss and while the world questioned him about his changes in appearance, no answer came. Until his death.
Chadwick Boseman, who played T’Challa in the renowned movie, The Black Panther, died at the age of 43 from colon cancer. According to the last tweet made from his twitter account, “Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. ” (Chadwick Boseman's twitter page, August 28, 2020) After his death, millions of fans across the world offered their condolences to his family and expressed regret at his passing. Some even offered an apology for their misguided assumptions, however, those apologies came too late because he would never receive them.
There are so many times when we see others not looking their best and we feel the need to express our concern and in some cases, even criticise, without truly knowing what they are going through. And while it is OK to express our concerns, we must be mindful of the way in which this is done. People are at different stages of their lives and may be fighting battles that no one knows about.
Paul encouraged the Colossian church to “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians chapter 4, verse 6) In the Apostle Paul’s time, salt was used as a currency and soldiers were often paid with a handful of salt. It was also used as a preservative to prevent meat from spoiling and others used it to help in the treatment and cleaning of wounds. Salt is also known to add flavour to whatever it is added.
Our conversations should be no different. While our words may not necessarily be used as currency, like salt, it however can be used as an asset, that is “a useful or valuable thing.” (Dictionary.com) We can use our words to impact lives and promote changes. Our words have the power to help in treating emotional wounds or to aid in causing deep emotional scars. What you do with your words is up to you, but I implore you to use it to encourage and inspire and add 'flavour' to the lives of others.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians chapter 4, verse 29)
Growing up I would often hear “If you have nothing good to say, then don’t say anything”; but over the years I have learnt that even when you have something bad to say, it is how you say it that really makes the difference. No matter what the message is, we must ensure that our speech, and if necessary too, our correction, is gentle and full of love and does not come off as aloof or condescending.
As highlighted above, our words are powerful and can have a lasting effect. When offering criticism, don’t focus on the negative but ensure that positive aspects of whatever is being assessed is pinpointed. This may not always be easy, but it will certainly be beneficial to the receiver as the criticism offered can promote growth (whether big or small) in the individual’s life.
Do it all for Christ
The words we speak ought to convey respect, humility and love to those around us and even to ourselves. Oftentimes however, much more than our word is required. We must show others with our actions that we really mean what we say and sometimes, this may require for us to go the extra mile. Sometimes, this may mean investing our time, money, resources and even our skills and talents to motivate and impact the lives of others.
In an interview, Chadwick Boseman once recited the humbling words “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.” (Erma Bombeck) Chadwick was a talented man on camera but he also gave of himself to the service of others off camera. While you and I may not be fortunate to inspire people through a fictional superhero as he did, we can still impact others through our different gifts and talents and even our speeches. More importantly, we can impact God’s kingdom. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people” (Colossians chapter 3, verse 22)
Rose-Ann Durant is a young Christian from Kingston, Jamaica, who is currently living in the island of Barbados. She is an ardent reader who enjoys going to the beach, river and spending time outdoors.