The powerful French statesman Richelieu (1585-1642) was also known as a man of great courtesy. On one occasion someone applied to him for a job, knowing that he would be turned down. Richelieu’s manner of speech was so warm and accepting that it was worth having a request denied just to hear how graciously he expressed himself—even when he said no. We can all learn from that example.

In the early years of our marriage, my wife Margaret lovingly reminded me on occasion about my tendency to express my opinions a little too emphatically. In my enthusiasm to make a point, I was inclined to speak loudly and with great animation. As a result, I often appeared to be angry when actually I was not.

I wonder, what is your speech like? We as Christians ought to be so sensitive to the needs, hurts, and disappointments of others that no unkind words come from our lips and no harsh tone is heard in our voices— even when we find it necessary to be firm. We have Christ dwelling within us, and as we yield to His control His love will become evident not only in what we say but also in how we say it.

The difference between being an offense or a blessing is sometimes just a manner of speaking.