“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 (ESV)
There are words we shrug at and then there are words that we hold on to.
There I was, in the bathroom with my strong and determined three year old, not to forget my sweet newborn baby strapped to my chest, and the others in my crazy crew.
Let me just get it out of the way…I am part of a travelling circus. No, there are no real animals or trained acrobats, but we put on quite the show and love to pretend to be said animals and acrobats. It doesn’t matter where!
The Exchange of Words.
We were just finishing up our trip at the museum, taking a quick potty stop before heading home. My sweet three year old had decided that he was not ready to go home. He also decided to tell me in a NOT so nice way. I took a deep breath, dug down deep and responded back in a calm, yet firm response.
Of course, it wasn’t the right response, so he stomped his foot, folded his arms and yelled at me. Looking at my crazy little guy, I knelt down and said, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but it is time to go home. You can choose to throw a fit and miss out on coming back to the museum or you can listen to mommy and we can come back another time.”
Almost instantly, I heard an, “Excuse me.” I thought to myself…brace yourself…we have a live one and who knows what she is going to say. I turned around with a hesitant smile. The lady stepped closer and said, “I just want to say good job momma!” (Cue jaw drop) “You spoke so clearly, respectfully, and consistently to your child. You did a good job.”
She simply wanted to encourage me to keep on doing what I’m doing. She saw a moment to ‘build me up’. A moment that I will cling to.
Corrupting or Edifying
Our text comes from a letter that the apostle Paul is writing to the believers in Ephesus. He is writing to encourage his friends, as well as provide some practical advice. Throughout, the chapter gives some very specific ways to keep unity in the church, as well as grow in maturity. In v. 29 he addresses ‘words’. He encourages the believers to stop speaking evil and replace it with speech that is good and encouraging.
The word ‘corrupt’ in the Greek is ‘sapros’, it means ‘bad’ like rotten fruit (Luke 6:43) or putrid (Matt. 13:48). Edifying speech, or talk that is ‘good for building up of the need’ is speaking with grace. It is speaking with sympathy. It is not giving us permission to give our opinion. It is speaking the love of Jesus to the specific need.
Words of Life or Death
When we choose to speak words of grace and encouragement, it truly is life-giving. Our job as believers is to look out for each other and help one another grow in our walk with Christ. In vs. 32 Paul charges the believer to ‘be kind to one another, tenderhearted…’. Our words should reflect the ‘fruit of the spirit’. Brave words give hope. Hence, they lead to Jesus.
Corrupt words are like a disease. They cause us to struggle and wrestle with unhealthy thoughts. Unhealthy thoughts and lies from the enemy begin to take root. All from little ‘ol words. Words that flippantly flew off the tongue of a complete and utter stranger or a beloved friend, lead to destruction and grief.
Attack confidence. Change perspective. Taint attitudes.
A matter of the Heart
Ultimately, it comes down to the state of our heart. The whole reason we NEED Jesus every minute of every day.
Ephesians 4:22-24 says we need “to put off [our] old self, which belongs to [our] former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of [our] minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (ESV)
In order to become more like Christ, we must make a decision daily to invite Him in to work in and through us.
Luke 6:45 says, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
What our mouth speaks is a tell tale of what is truly ‘hidden in our heart’.
We must guard our hearts! Pray that the Holy Spirit will protect our heart and mind. Ask him for wisdom, discernment and conviction. With his help, we can change. In that change, we can speak life into others.
What words will you choose?
Oh merciful God! Thank you for your WORDS! Thank you for the truth that sets us free and gives us life everlasting. We come to you today and ask that you would search our hearts and show us what is corrupt. Show us the areas that need to be renewed. Convict us Holy Spirit. Lord, give us gentle reminders to speak life into those around us. May we be more and more like you everyday. In your name. Amen!
- Take Inventory! How do you respond to those around you?
- Invite the Holy Spirit to shine a light on the rough areas.
- Make and effort to think about what you say and how you say it.
- Immerse yourself in God’s words!
Brave words give hope. Hence, they lead to Jesus.
She is a lover of Jesus, Littles, Coffee, and Light bulb moments.
Christine enjoys leading worship with her husband, crafting, and encouraging mommas in the trenches of motherhood.