Monday, September 19, 2011

The Words We Speak

Ephesians 4:29 - 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.

The cliche "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," might hold true in social settings. However, as believers in Christ, we are called to do even more. We are to be intentional with our words. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul first gives the mandate that no corrupt speech come forth from the believers mouths. The adjective for corrupt is a Greek term that is also used of fish that had been left out in the market too long (cf. Matthew 12:33-34; BDAG). Therefore,if ingested by others, our words can have the same damaging affect as stinky, rotten, fish. Paul makes no room for concession as to which words are included in the mandate. No word coming from the mouth should have any ill characteristic whether it is vulgar language or slanderous talk. Often times, we think that if we telling something in jest or speaking sarcastically, our words are exempt. However, this verse states otherwise.

After giving the command of how the Ephesians are to guard their speech, Paul directs them in the way in which they should exhort one another. Their speech should be wholesome and beneficial in order to build up or strengthen the Christian community. Not only are believers to be beneficial in what we say, but we are to be intentional in how, when, and to whom to say it. Paul instructs the Ephesians to speak that which is beneficial of the need, therefore showing a prudence to the words spoken. Often times we can speak wholesome words, but if they are to the wrong person, in the wrong situation, or at the wrong time, they fall on deaf ears. The purpose for our good speech is so that we might give grace to those who hear our words. As image-bearers of God and followers of Christ, we are to be administrators of grace. One way in which to do that is through our words.

If we actually begin to think intentionally about being administrators of grace before we begin our conversation with both believers and non-believers, think about the impact our words would have on society. It would be much easier to hold back the words that have rude meaning and speak words of truth, love, and encouragement.

The challenge in this verse is to think before you speak. Not only should we think about WHAT we say, but think about WHY we are saying it. When we do, we will make a greater impact for the kingdom of God.

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