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War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles

de Paul David Tripp

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Minister Paul David Tripp proposes methods to communicate more effectively with God and with others.
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Excellent examination of the importance of our words and the heart that is behind them. Build on solid theological foundations but as practical as it gets. ( )
  HGButchWalker | Sep 21, 2016 |
"A life of godly communication is rooted in a personal recognition of the sovereignty of God... Only when I submit to the rule of God, who has a perfect plan and is in complete control, will I begin to live and speak as he has purposed" (69).

For the Christian, good communication is not about mere technique but is a profoundly theological issue. Paul David Tripp's book War of Words addresses the theological side of communication, working from a healthily biblical perspective on sin, the Fall, the gospel, grace, God's sovereignty, and sanctification. We have trouble in our communication not because we are lacking in knowledge or training, but because our speech reveals our sinful hearts. The subtitle of the book, "getting to the heart of your communication struggles," sums it up perfectly. It's our idolatrous hearts that betray themselves in what we say. This is the war of words that every Christian must fight.

Tripp starts by laying the theological foundation that will support the rest of the book:

"Our words belong to the Lord. He is the Great Speaker. The wonder, the significance, the glory of human communication has its roots in his glory and in his decision to talk with us and to allow us to talk with him and others. God has unlocked the doors of truth to us, using words as his key. The only reason we understand anything is because he has spoken. Words belong to God, but he has lent them to us so that we might know him and be used by him" (15).

It's good to start right there: our words don't belong to us. They have weight and meaning, and we are not free to use them however we wish. Tripp then continues with several chapters on biblical doctrine, including man's depravity, salvation, and how God works to sanctify His people. The doctrine of God's sovereignty is so essential that Tripp dedicates an entire chapter ("He Is King!") to it. And with good reason. When we consider His divine control over everything, we can trust His plan for our words and not give way to regret over our past sins or discouragement for our future.

One chapter I found particularly convicting was the one titled "Following The King For All The Wrong Reasons." Tripp examines the passage in John 6 that depicts the feeding of the five thousand and the crowds' subsequent attempts to follow Christ and make Him their king by force. This isn't just something that the five thousand did, though. Many of us are doing the same thing. We follow Christ because we think He will give us the physical bread, the temporal blessings that we crave. But Christ came not to give us mere physical blessings, but His very self. He is the bread of life. We need to evaluate what bread we are desiring.

While stressing the high calling and standards God has for our communication, Tripp is careful to encourage his readers that though God's calling may seem impossible for us to fulfill, He has given believers everything we need to do it. Our hope for change and our peace with the past are dependent on trusting God's sovereignty (everything comes back to that, doesn't it?).

This is one of the most simultaneously convicting and encouraging books I've ever read. I never knew how terrible my communication was until I held it up to the light of biblical truth about God's plan for my words and how far I fall short. I read this book as part of a small group study with several other women, and it was so encouraging to see we struggle with the same thing in our talk: our sinful hearts. And yet God has provided a way for us to change through Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling His people. In Him, we can win the war of words, model Christ in the way we communicate, and enjoy the fruit of godly speech. This is good news! I will certainly be rereading War of Words and recommending without reservation to every Christian I know. Read it—you will be convicted, challenged, encouraged, and exhorted! ( )
1 vota atimco | Jan 2, 2012 |
Explains "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." ( )
  andrewlovesoldbooks | Jan 1, 2009 |
War of Words is about just what you’d think: a battle. But it’s also not about what you may think. This is not a war of words between two people, duking it out in the privacy of their own home, making life miserable for one another, though what we learn from the book has implications for how we communicate with our families. This is not a war of words between factions in a church, duking it out publicly so all the world can see and mock those who should be characterized by their love for one another (John 13:34-35), but who more often are characterized by how loudly they can shout down those of their own Church family who are in perceived opposition. But what we learn from this book would alleviate that wrath and clamor and slander and malice. No, this is a wholly different kind of battle, one we should each be fighting so that these other battles might no longer exist.

Our words have their roots not only in the words of the Lord (Genesis 1), but also in the words of the serpent (Genesis 3). With this admission, we confess that our communication struggle is not primarily a struggle of technique, but a struggle of the heart. Our war of words is not with other people; it is a battle within. (p. 30)

With characteristic frankness, a solid grasp of theology, and an engaging and thoroughly practical tone, Paul Tripp first shows the reader where words came from:

The wonder, the significance, the glory of human communication has its roots in His glory....Words belong to God, but He has lent them to us so that we might know Him and be used by Him. This means that words do not belong to us. Every word we speak...should echo the Great Speaker and reflect His glory...Talk was created by God for His purpose. Our words belong to Him. (15)

He shows us what went wrong:

We have usurped the authority of God: We say what we want to say, when and how we want to say it. We speak as if we are in charge and as if we have the right to use words to advance our purpose, and to achieve what would make us happy. (20)

In the heart of every sinner is a tendency to exchange worship and service of the Creator for worship and service of the created thing. All human beings are worshippers; the issue is only what or whom we worship. (61)

He defines the problem:

Word problems are always related to heart problems. That’s why we will not solve communication problems by dealing only with our words, any more than we would solve a problem with a plant’s fruit production by dealing only with the fruit. (55)

An idolatrous heart will produce idol words, words that serve the idol that grips us. It is hard for us to hold our desires loosely. Instead, they tend to take hold of us. …We will not solve our problem with [ungodly] words until we humbly address the adultery and idolatry of our hearts. (59)

And, as any good Biblical counselor would, he gives hope. Over and over again.

Our world of talk does not have to be a world of trouble for this one reliable reason: the Word has come. (49)

The promise of the Gospel extends deeper than new techniques and strategies. It aims at more than a temporary lull in the storm of words. The Gospel holds out the promise of nothing less than a new heart, one that is no longer enslaved to the passions and desires of the sinful nature. (60)

God knew that our condition as sinners was so desperate and His calling so high that forgiveness would not be enough... He forgives, but He also empowers. He will not call us to do anything without giving us what we need to do it. If the Lord calls you to cross the Red Sea, He will send a boat, build a bridge, part the waters, or help you swim! (125)

But Tripp doesn’t stop there. After reminding us that the ability to communicate is from God and therefore as His children, we must reflect Him as His ambassadors, and after reminding us that our problem is not that He’s asked us to do too hard a thing but rather we don’t trust or depend on Him enough to worship and obey Him, he offers practical help. Of course, the first step in overcoming idolatry is to look at God Himself. We end up worshiping what we look at the longest…so fix your eyes on Jesus! But beyond that, we must grow in this area in the context of our relationships. That is what earthly communication is for, is it not?

The writer of Hebrews sees the ministry of the Body of Christ in much more robust and comprehensive terms [than isolated programs for various age groups, genders, and seasons of life]. His view is nothing short of everyone ministering everyday! ...As long as sin remains in us, there will be some degree of deceitfulness in our hearts, with a resulting spiritual blindness. We carry this with us wherever we go. This means that in every situation, to every person, daily ministry is needed. This call extends far beyond the scheduled gatherings of the Body of Christ. (148)

We speak God’s words to each other not because we are higher or better and not because we are capable of fixing people. No, we teach, encourage, admonish, correct, and exhort because God has commissioned us to do so. (173)

Essentially, a commitment to allow God to redeem our communication for His purposes, just as He has redeemed our souls, will revolutionize how we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ. A revolutionized view of them will revolutionize our involvement with them. Revolutionized involvement will revolutionize how we communicate with them, and they with us. And that’s what Christ was talking about when He said the world would know us by our love for one another. God is a God of redemption; we as His ambassadors must be people of redemption. As we “speak redemptively,”

No longer will our words leave a trail of discouragement, destruction, and division. Rather, they will be words of love, truth, grace, hope, faith, forgiveness, and peace, producing a harvest of righteousness. (181-182)

It took me an inordinate amount of time to read this book. If you track my progress via my bookstack on the sidebar, you’ve seen this title rest there for months. This isn't because the book is that long (245 pages), or that difficult to wade through, but rather because I didn’t like reading it. At least, not to begin with. But for all that, it is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Those things are both true for the same reasons. With the conviction that would tempt me to turn away, God through His Word and the redemptive words of the author also brings the comfort that should draw me to Him. There is a war of words going on in my own heart, but now, having read Paul David Tripp’s book, I am better equipped to fight this war with the Spirit, rather than against Him (Galatians 5:16-17), by His grace and for His glory.

See my full review and others at ( )
1 vota vg2001 | Sep 5, 2007 |
I came to "War of Words" expecting a treatise on how to communicate more effectively. What I found was a profound, heartfelt exposition that dug down to the very roots of the sins and attitudes that effect our words. The author sincere, accurate, convincing, and convicting.

This book needs to be read by couples, pastors, counselors, missionaries--indeed in all believers who are remotely interested in "godly communication". It is certainly a resource I will refer to again and again.
  brazilnut72 | Mar 4, 2007 |
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