Friday, December 10, 2010

Non-Verbal Cues Reveal

And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:13 NAS)

Jesus and the LeperIt is no secret that people can detect our attitudes and level of interest on a subject by observing the way we carry ourselves before them. Our smiles and gestures, for example, can show our enthusiasm, while our facial and body expression can show our lack of interest.

Non-verbal communication such as body language can reveal how we think about something or feel towards someone, and sometimes even disclose what is in our hearts. This is why some people are interested in the study of body language—because it helps identify the truth from a lie. We may be able to plan the words we want to say, but we rarely can plan when we blink, smile or use other gestures during conversations. Unlike verbal communication, non-verbal communication is usually done unconsciously.

According to Positive-Way.com, up to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal, and that includes tone of voice, eye movement, posture, hand gestures, facial expressions and more. Staring or gazing at others can create pressure and tension, while maintaining eye contact can reveal whether a person is trustworthy, sincere or caring. Shifty eyes and too much blinking can suggest deception, while people whose eye movements are relaxed and comfortable, yet attentive to the other are regarded as sincere and honest. Vocal cues like tones of voice, volume, emotion, pace and the likes reveal attitudes. Bodily cues, such as hand-to-face gestures or shrugs, are strong markers of possible deception. Hand gestures or signals can communicate without the use of speech. Touch can indicate friendship or aggression, while movement toward or away from someone can convey dominance, assertion or avoidance.

The Gospels mentioned on many occasions how the Lord showed compassion and willingness to heal the sick (Matthew 20:34; Mark 6:34; 8:2). When a leper saw Jesus and fell on his face to implore Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean," Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed” (Luke 5:12-13).

This incident reveals something about body language. Although it is not explicitly stated in the Bible any eye contact between Jesus and the leper, it is clear that Jesus must have shown compassion because He willingly stretched out His hand and touched him. The touch of Jesus is of friendship, not dominance, assertion or avoidance. Our Lord’s non-verbal cues—the tone of His voice, the volume, emotion and pace—must have revealed love and compassion and put the leper at ease, without pressure or tension. Similarly, when the leper saw Jesus and fell on his face to implore the Lord, his posture, eye contact, vocal and bodily cues, gesture and facial expression must have revealed his heart.

When we come before the Lord, do we come to Him with a broken and contrite heart or do we carry untruth and insincerity in our hearts (Psalm 34:18; 51:17)? God does not need to see our body language to know our hearts (Psalm 44:21; Jeremiah 17:10), but are we, like Jesus, filled with compassion for others? Are we willing to stretch out our hands to touch those who are in need? Are we showing nonchalance toward people around us?

In whatever we do, therefore, let us do it with sincerity of heart, knowing that from the Lord we will receive our reward (Colossians 3:23-24). Let us not do anything from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than ourselves; not merely looking out for our own interests, but also for the interest of others (Philippians 2:3-4). Unless we do all things from a sincere heart, our body language can give us away and disclose to the world how much we really care.

Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes doing things without sincerity of heart. We know Lord our hearts can never be hidden from You, and even if we attempt to hide our feelings from others, our body language can reveal much to dishonor Your name. Help us dear Lord to always stay truthful and sincere at heart when doing the things we do, especially while caring for others. Mold us Lord to be more like You that we may with a heart of compassion reach out to others without giving them tension or pressure.

4 comments:

  1. "This is why some people are interested in the study of body language—because it helps identify the truth from a lie. We may be able to plan the words we want to say, but we rarely can plan when we blink, smile or use other gestures during conversations."

    Your words caused me to consider Luke 22:61. Peter had denied Christ and in this scripture it says Jesus looked at Peter. Can you imagine looking Jesus in the eye after you have denied him?

    Jesus' body language toward Peter revealed truth. Peter was never the same. You can't look Jesus in the eye and remain unchanged.

    Thanks for your article.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dear Constantprayer ... I've written a devotional covering the event of Peter's denial as well. If you like, you can read it here. Yes, it must have been heartbreaking.

    ReplyDelete

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