Yesterday, I was talking with some friends at church about a specific verse that has helped me know when to speak and when to stay quiet...a verse that makes me deal with my attitude and motivation behind the words that I feel crowding in my throat demanding to be set free, for better or worse...often for the worse.
Monday, February 15, 2010
God is gracious in keeping this verse at the front of my brain...(I must need it!)...because this morning I picked up the Mahaney book, Humility, and this is what I read:
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29
The speech that's forbidden is "corrupting talk." Are you familiar with corrupting talk? Sure you are. It's a daily temptation and tendency for all of us. This word corrupting is the same one used to denote the spoiling or decaying of food. Corrupting words bring rottenness; they're death-giving words instead of life-giving words. God in this passage is wisely forbidding us from any and all speech that is detrimental to others---words that defile someone, words that are divisive or degrading. This takes in negative forms of speech that Paul has already spoken against in this letter, including 'falsehood' (Eph. 4:25), 'slander' (4:31), and vulgarity (5:4). But now with the phrase "corrupting talk" he introduces a broader category. He's referring to any and all communication that deters growth in godliness; any speech that hinders the cultivation of godly relationships; any words that have a deadening or dulling effect on the soul of another. It's the nature of such corrupt words to penetrate and to spread, and they "grieve the Holy Spirit of God" (4:30). Therefore, no talk of this kind is allowed. Among believers and their families in the church of Jesus Christ, there's to be no decay-spreading communication of any kind, in any form, at any time, by anyone."
Now think of your conversations from the last twenty four hours. Think about how you spoke to your husband...or your children. Think of how you discussed the pastor's sermon...or the Sunday School lesson...or the news. Did they build up the hearer? Did they impart grace? Or did they spread discontent? Did they harden hearts or soften them towards the Gospel?
Our words, and how we use them, are not something to take lightly. According to Proverbs 18:21 God Himself has placed the power of life and death in the tongue.
Keep this verse close at hand this week...guard your mouth...and seek to offer grace to your hearers.