Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Back when I was in my mid-twenties, I think I might have had a Master’s Degree in unwholesome, discouraging talk. Not only was I very negative in most any opinion I shared, I enjoyed “verbal jousting”, and I also cursed like I was paid by the vowel. Sadly, I took some odd pleasure in seeing those I thought were too uptight get offended by things I said.
I’m really not sure why I was that way, but chances are a little psycho-analysis could figure it out pretty quickly. To make it even more strange, I craved hearing encouraging things from others, but seldom did; most likely at that point, due to my penchant for anti-social behavior.
I met my beautiful wife when I was thirty and quickly learned that people could be encouraging. In fact, life was a whole lot better when they were. While this lifted my waterline quite a bit, it wasn’t until we surrendered our “control issues” to Christ and dove into scripture that we really learned how important encouragement really is to us, and everyone else.
In a microcosm of insight, we can watch our son inflate or deflate based on our words, tone and body language. Speak negatively, his spirit falls, positively and it rises. He’s only three, but that trait is universal in just about everyone, no matter their age.
Now, I’ve written about encouragement before on this blog but it wasn’t until just this past week that the passage above from Ephesians really stuck out to me.
I’m ashamed to admit that when things don’t go my way, I often backslide a little into that dark place where I criticize things a little too fervently. Maybe it’s some sort of defense mechanism, maybe it’s some sort of spiritual sour grapes, who knows. But, this week I really caught the connection between being that way and failing to be encouraging. It hit me like a hammer.
If I’m letting coarse talk come out of my mouth, stuff that isn’t solely intended to build others up, which side of the battle am I on?
No one encourage and criticize at the same time.
No one can serve two masters…
With that in mind, I’m thankful to the Holy Spirit for making this verse jump out at me. I’ve read Ephesians at least a dozen times, yet 4:29 has slipped past my eyes and ears in every instance without really sinking in. Until now.
I remember the day after I was baptized vividly. I clearly knew I was no longer the same. It was evident in no uncertain terms that I had to strive to live more in line with His will.
Now this week, after answering the call to help plant a church, that same feeling is back. It’s time to take another step up, and I think it all starts with Ephesians 4:29.
We all live in a storm. Our jobs, bills, relationships, physical needs and wants all collide in our hearts and minds, making it easy to feel pulled under.
Unfortunately, the negatives can often carry far more weight than the positives. But, if we always remember to let the negative die with us and only release what is helpful and benefitting to others, the storm will clear and He will be honored.