“Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” ~ Genesis 11:6-7
Have those words ever been hurled at you? I can honestly say in nearly all of my relationships – friend, family, work, community – whenever I have had regular interactions with someone, I’ve told the other person to let me know what they needed or wanted and I would be sure to do what I was able to do. Without fail, that’s how I communicate my interest in, availability, and willingness to work with them for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Without fail, I can tell you the best responders have always been the people I work with. Why? Because there is no expectation of mind-reading.
The people who usually assume I know what they need or want are family and long-term friends. True too, those are the same people I most often act on behalf of before hearing them express their needs. Why? Because there’s knowledge of behaviors, habits, and personality.
When you know certain things about people, you can usually anticipate their needs and desires. However, that is not the same as knowing what they’re thinking. There’s no way of getting around verbally communicating with the people you interact with.
Have you ever considered that God, who knows everything about everything, especially us – He sees us, hears us, reads our heart, knows our desires, knew us before we knew ourselves – even the all knowing God requires us to speak and act? Think about that. We have to ask Him to move in our lives. We have to respond to Him when he speaks to us. We have to do what He tells us to do.
He provides so many instructions in his Word that we know we can’t just sit and think about obeying Him. We know it’s not enough to simply hope for a particular outcome. It does no good to only regret our actions or think loving thoughts. We have to verbalize our sorrow when we’ve wronged someone. We have to speak and show love to the people we care for.
In Genesis 11 we are told the story of the Tower of Babel. This is an amazing story that illustrates the importance of communication. Indeed in verses six and seven, God Himself sums the magnitude of what clear communication can accompish, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
Do you know that when you and another person understand each other, and you are in agreement with God’s word, anything you choose to do together will be successful? The Word of God says nothing will be impossible for you. You need to know that.
It’s truly frustrating when people don’t speak – when people don’t share their ideas or positions or contribute to a decision-making conversation. When people withhold their voice, they are withholding the possibility of reaching agreement with you. And whatever you’re working on together will be a struggle at the least or a failure at the most.
Imagine, a very long time ago, everyone spoke the same language, used the same words, understood each other and accomplished great things. Unfortunately, because their unity was in defiance of God’s direct instruction to spread out and fill the earth with their children, God created a situation in which the people preferred to get away from people that made no sense to them. The population separated to form families and tribes based on the languages spoken when God confounded them through language.
How’s that for a word? When there is no understanding, there’s separation.
Communication provides opportunity for unity and deeper fellowship within a relationship.
Read the passage for yourself.
At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babyloniaand settled there.
They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world. ~ Genesis 11:1-9
There are some very important lessons in this passage.
(1) God will have His way. You can fall in line and make things easy for yourself or be disobedient and reap consequences that will affect the earth for generations to come. To this day, we have just as much difficulty communicating with the person next door as we do with people on the other side of the world. Obey God and save yourself some energy!
(2)God has given us so much power that anything we imagine, we can do. If you have doubts about your abilities, reread Genesis 11:6. In Matthew 18:19-20, Jesus tells us, If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers,I am there among them.” Imagine how difficult communicating and understanding must be if we are only required to find one or two others to be in agreement with us and God! That difficulty highlights why it’s so extremely important!
(3)According to the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, sun-dried bricks look hard and permanent but they fall apart quickly in the rain or changing weather. “Bricks often appear in [Biblical] contexts where people are constructing their own proud, temporal plans rather than obeying the eternal God.” (Leland Ryken, 1998) In the Babel story, the people were united in disobeying God, building for their own honor rather than God’s glory, and creating from their own “materials” instead of from God’s materials. When we directly oppose God, our best will be as nothing. We need to build on His word, using His stone and mortar and let go of our own bricks and tar (ego and pride).