Words, spoken and written, really do have an impact. We probably all know the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” HA!! That’s an utter LIE!! You may be pretty tough-skinned, but at some point in time or another, someone’s words did hurt.
And you still remember them!
That is why I want to share with you what is currently on my heart. The Lord has been speaking to me lately through the passage in Ephesians 4:29-32 (KJV).
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
So many thoughts, so much God is teaching me. Many times I’ve failed to obey this passage – yes, it’s a command, actually several commands. Yes, God expects obedience, giving more grace when we stumble and fall. That could be a very lengthy discussion, eh?
In this introductory blog on this passage, I really want to focus on verse 29, and give what I believe (after much prayer and careful study) is the simple explanation about this verse.
First of all, through the writer, the Apostle Paul, God gives the command to keep “corrupt communication from proceed[ing] out of your mouth.” What is corrupt? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines it in several terms, “putrid, dead, dying, rotten, spoiled” (more can be found here). Hmmm…not what I want to think of as coming out of my mouth.
Jesus said in Matthew 15:17-20, it’s what comes out of a man’s mouth that defiles him. WOW!! That’s convicting for me. Oh, how I’ve failed in this soooooooo many times.
Second, I’d like to use the second part of the verse to define the first. As I read this verse, there are two qualifiers that help us to know what should come out of our mouths.
- That which is good to the use of edifying
- That is may minister grace unto the hearers
Anything that does not fall under those two categories, then, would be considered corrupt. That narrows the things we can talk about, wouldn’t you say? There goes my conviction siren again.
Some here may say that it means we can never say anything that would be difficult for another to hear (i.e. confrontation – Matthew 18; restoration – Gal. 6:1), and I think Scripture also speaks on this to us. I think it means we speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) after we have “put off the old man” and “put on the new.”
Finally, this is a choice. You can choose to edify and minister grace, or you can choose to do otherwise. God does hold us accountable, and our words will either justify or condemn (Matt. 12:37).
Scripture is loaded with so much about the words I speak, my tongue, and the impact it has on my life and the lives of others. I am learning that sometimes it’s best to just keep my mouth shut (Proverbs 10:19).
For further reading, I highly recommend a small book by a Yugoslavian pastor, Simo Relavic, The Tongue, Our Measure. It is encouraging and convicting, but easy to read and simple to divide into morning devotional excerpts.
Until next time, consider your words. I know I will be. 🙂