War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles by Paul David Tripp (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000)
Christian books that deal with practical application issues are often little different than secular self-help books. Do this. Don't do that. Here's a five-step plan for success. Not so with Paul David Tripp's War of Words. This book takes a Christ-centered, gospel approach to considering the issue of communication. He deals with matters of the heart and asserts the only hope for heart change lies with God and the gospel of grace.
Tripp encourages Christians to remember that we are ambassadors of God. To every situation to which we bring our words, we are to bring them in accordance with the goal the One we represent has when He deals with people, that is redemption. That redemption is not just in the sense of judicial forgiveness for sin, but in the Spirit's day-to-day work in the life of a Christian to conform him or her more and more to the image of Christ. Rather than center our efforts on controlling others, punishing them for hurting us or making them do as we wish, Tripp encourages us to die to our own fleshly passions and consider how we can best be used redemptively by God in that person's life.
As Tripp guides the reader through how to think about our words, his advice is entirely Bible-based. It is not what Paul Tripp has found works for him, but rather what the Apostle Paul, and King Solomon, and the Apostle Peter wrote as divinely-inspired instruction.
I skimmed through this book before I read it. I encountered so many anecdotes that involved explosions of hot tempers, that I was tempted to think I didn't need this book. After all, I'm a mild-tempered member of a mild-tempered family. I was humbled as I read it, though, because it goes so much deeper than that and holds up a standard that even the most mature, self-controlled Christian does not keep. Yet, Tripp offers the hope and encouragement that comes from a right understanding of the grace and promises of God.
The writing is clear and engaging. The anecdotes are helpful in illustrating his points, helping Tripp to achieve an almost perfect balance of the theoretical and the practical.
I was going to say that every pastor and elder ought to read this book. Then I thought, well, fathers, too. And mothers. Teachers, of course. Certainly blog writers. And managers and employees. War of Words is for all of us.