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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)

TITLE: Misinterpreted Message
By Edmond Ng
12/19/10


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    FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM (Matthew 13:15 NAS)
Some months ago I was communicating with an administrative staff of a publisher to help correct a typo error made by them for one of my written articles hosted at their web site. The staff explained to me that the person handling the web site is a volunteer, so it may take some time before the error get corrected. Understanding that, I waited, but after several weeks without any change made at the site, I decided to send a follow-up e-mail. The intent was to first apologize for the inconvenience I was causing them, and then provide a step-by-step guide to help them easily change the typo error with the administrator access rights the staff already has. The e-mail reply from the staff however turned out to be a little hostile, telling me to be patient and to understand the need for time. Obviously, the staff has misunderstood my intent and thought I was chasing them for faster support.

Many of us have experienced being misunderstood. The Bible records many instances when Jesus was misunderstood. Some of these instances include the forgiving of sins (Mark 2:5-7), the dining with tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:13-17), the healing on Sabbath (Mark 3:4-5), the conversation with a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-9), the destroying and rebuilding of the temple in three days (John 2:19-21), and the fulfilling of the Law instead of abolishing (Matthew 5:17).

What is the main reason for all these misunderstandings? In the case of Jesus, it was because the hearts of His people have become dull. They have ears but they scarcely hear, and have closed their eyes for fear of seeing what they do not want to see or hearing what they do not want to hear (Matthew 13:15). Jesus therefore spoke to them in parables, and to those whose hearts stood steadfast with Him, they were blessed (Matthew 13:16-18).

What about us? Is the main reason others are not hearing us correctly because of their over sensitivity to what we say? Is it because they are always reading between lines that they misinterpret our intent? Is it us who have misinterpreted their message or misunderstood how they think of us? Over sensitivity and reading too deep between the lines can give rise to misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. If we choose to hear only what we want to hear or tend to misinterpret the implied meanings or intents of other people, we need to re-examine ourselves to see if we are overly or unduly sensitive. Remember, regardless the mode we use to communicate with other people, communication can only be fruitful if the message is interpreted correctly by the receiver.

Let us therefore be like Christ when we communicate with others about Him. If their hearts have become dull to receive direct preaching or the gospel, let us share with them ‘parables’ or examples of our life stories or anecdotes. When communicating with them, we ought always to be careful to clarify and verify anything that is unclear that we may not jump into conclusion. If there be anything that interferes with our understanding of a communication, such as presumption, assumption, prejudice, internal or external interruptions or anything else, let us take steps to eliminate them so the message may not be misconstrued or misinterpreted.

Dear Lord, help us to be attentive when communicating with other people, that we may not at anytime misinterpret the meaning of the message. Lay hold of our hearts Lord that we may not be over sensitive or read into messages between the lines too deeply what are not really there or implied. Open our eyes and ears Lord that we may see clearly and hear properly the actual message along with its correct meaning so we may not jump into conclusion or misconstrue the truth. Forgive us Lord for misunderstanding You and others at times. Give us understanding Lord that our hearts may return to You and be healed.


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This article has been read 435 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cheryl Harrison 12/24/10
Yes, a huge part of communication hinges on perception. Would'nt it be wonderful if we never had to deal with misunderstandings. Thanks for writing this. Good message.
Verna Cole Mitchell 12/27/10
Really excellent devotional with thoughts clearly expressed and solution provided from the Word.
Gregory Kane12/29/10
This works well as a devotional. I suspect that it would have had even more punch had you managed to weave your scenario back into the story right near the end
Sara Harricharan 12/29/10
Very well done, thanks for sharing!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/04/11
What a wonderful devotion. It is a message I really need to hear right now. Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of level 3!