Al Bryant tells of a little boy that was invited out to lunch in a neighbor’s home. When all were seated at the table the food was served. The little boy was puzzled, and with the forthright frankness of a child, asked the host: “Don’t you say any prayer before you eat?” The host was highly embarrassed over the boy’s blunt inquiry, and mumbled, “No, we don’t take time for that.” The kid was silent for a time, then said, “You’re just like my dog. You start right in.”

This scene is really cute when you imagine a child saying such things. Read the story again, but exchange the child with a grown man. The story is not as cute coming from a grown up. Here are a few thoughts when speaking boldly and not bluntly.

1. When bold is necessary filter it through encouragement. I have heard people tell me that they will “tell it like it is,” which usually translates that they will not use their God given mind filter and be hateful when asked about a situation. To be blunt to satisfy an inward sensation of hate exhibits a lack of relationship with Christ because it is not an evidence of salvation. Blunt speech is not a spiritual gift and is not even a fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5: 16 – 26). Jerry Bridges states “avoid blunt speech and abrupt manner. Be sensitive to how others react to your words, considering how they may feel.” When it is necessary to speak boldly include encouragement.                       

2. Examine your blunt thoughts and repent when necessary. In all things, ask what the Bible says. I say this for two reasons: (1) Is it ever spiritually okay to be blunt to the point that it is either hateful or tear someone down? (2) What is the Biblical mode in which we ought to communicate? The word “blunt” is not found in the major translations of the Bible (KJV, NASB, NIV, ESV) as referring to speech because the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) do not use such a word in the Old and New Testaments. Most people are blunt because they are looking for a veil in which to express their personal hate. Personal hate does not edify, but tears people down. You may argue that some people may need to be torn down in which to be rebuilt correctly. I would respond that there is nowhere in the Bible that gives you that responsibility. It is God’s job in which to mold the man, not ours. The reason is that we are depraved people (Romans 5: 6) and what we think may need to be torn down, God may have other plans. According to the Moody Handbook of Theology, depravity further affirms man’s inability to understand the good (Matt. 13:14; John 1:11;8:43;Acts16:14;1 Cor.1:18; 2:14;2 Cor.3:12–18;Eph. 4:18).

3. Speak more Biblically. Our job is to be people that edify (Romans 15: 2; Ephesians 4: 29), are patient (Psalm 37: 7; 1 Corinthians 13: 4; 1 Thessalonians 5: 14; 1 Peter 2: 20; 2 Peter 3: 9), are gentle (Galatians 6: 1; Ephesians 4: 2; Philippians 4: 5; 1 Thessalonians 2: 7; 1 Timothy 3: 3; 2 Timothy 2: 25; Titus 3: 2; 1 Peter 3: 15), and are loving (John 15: 7; 21: 15; Romans 12: 10; 13: 10; 1 Corinthians 13: 13; 16: 14; Ephesians 5: 2).

4. Listen to hear more. I try my best to constantly have 5 mentors weaving throughout my life at a time. These mentors are folks that are really good at things in life that I would like to master. The one common thread that these folks have is the ability to listen and hear. Listening and hearing serve two purposes for me: (1) It allows me to hear completely what the other person is attempting to communicate (verbally or nonverbally) and (2) It allows me to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth. James stated, in James 1: 19 (NAS), "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger."