How do you use your words? When you say something, does it serve to make the situation better, or worse? If you are a Christian, you can’t just say whatever you feel like saying; to the contrary, God gives us a standard to follow.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
Every comment a Christian makes must pass the rule of being beneficial to the one who hears it. This obviously disqualifies unkindness, but it goes further than that. When someone is discouraged, do you encourage them? When they are disappointed, do you help them see the bright side of their situation? Does your conversation build people up or tear them down? This is perhaps easier to understand if we consider the opposite–words or comments that are genuinely poisonous.
Some people thoughtlessly spill their words onto others as if they were a walking toxic waste site. They call each other the vilest names. They discourage and tear other people down. They make fun of them and humiliate them. They convince them that they can’t succeed, can’t do right, and even that they are genuinely good for nothing. In other words, they allow Satan to do his work through them.
Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Because we possess the sin nature, human beings naturally spill verbal trash on each other. Yet when we submit to the authority of Christ, His Spirit helps us monitor and adjust what comes out of our mouths. Instead of doing damage with our words, He helps us heal with what we say. Doing this requires certain things, however.
First, it requires self-control. If we are used to saying whatever initially comes to us, we must filter our impulses through God’s Word first. Is it a corrupt–a harmful–comment, or is it good for edification–for building the other person up? Does it impart grace (undeserved goodness) to the hearer? Only if it passes this test can we allow ourselves to actually say what we intended to say.
Speaking blessing on others instead of curses also requires a genuine commitment to being used of God–to be His instrument–to accomplish His purposes. If we haven’t thought this through and prayed about it, in the heat of the moment it will be easier to cave in and continue as we always have.
Lastly, and most importantly, speaking what is good instead of bad to others requires a submission to the authority of God in our lives–in other words, it requires a genuine conversion. Without this, we will have neither a commitment to being used by God, nor the self-control required to succeed at it. Our sin nature is strong and without the Holy Spirit’s power to fight against it, good intentions are no match.
Yet this is what conversion does–it causes us to be reborn of God, and fills us with His Spirit. What we could not do before we can now do through the power He provides. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
So, how do you use your words? Are you a healer or an injurer? Do you bless or curse? Ultimately, we will do the work of whoever is our father—whether God, or the devil. To whom do you belong?
Be my Father! Help me do Your work through the words I speak to others. Help me heal, not wound. Help me bless, not curse. Use me to be part of Your solution to the evil effects of sin in this world. Amen.