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. Ephesians 4:29
I was in 4th grade when I had to memorize Ephesians 4:29. The King James version was required so phrases like “corrupt communication” and “to use of edifying” seem to add emphasis, but there’s no escaping this injunction even in a modern translation– your words are dangerous. And you’re responsible to not only to curb your tongue, but to use it for good.
The current verse is on my mind this week, in part because it was text being used for a sermon series Church of the Resurrection is doing this month. IZ and I are between churches (long story, a different post perhaps??) and so we tune in online on Sunday mornings as a way of staying connected before we start the church hunt in September.
This week’s sermon challenged us to do just that: stop and think. To stand with those who have no voice. And to use our words for good.
That latter challenge isn’t an easy task, as we live in a world where words fly. We blog, text, Facebook, tweet… talk, talk, talk and I wonder how often we ask ourselves, “is this helpful?” Long gone are the days where it is impolite to talk about oneself — today we are encouraged to delve deeply into our backstories and histories, our psyches and our impulses and put it all out there. For everyone to see. In triplicate.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t talking about blogging. Or texting or tweeting. His world wasn’t populated by people glued to their cell phones. What he did know, was human nature. Our modes of communication have changed, but humanity hasn’t. If good old Paul was around today I think he’d still admonish us to watch our words… he’d just be clarifying what he means by “out of your mouth…”
I’m not sure that’s a bad thing — all this freedom of expression. But I am certain of one thing, it is increasingly easy to completely disregard the other in our attempt to see ourselves. I’m certainly guilty of it. And while we may overthink our correspondence, or the blogs we write, we may not be asking the right question of the words we write. Not every post is necessary. Not every post is helpful. Not every post is going help build others up.
But there is good news! There are ways to avoid the inevitable. Ways to curb our tongues while still speaking our truths. We can choose to build others up or tear them down. It’s a choice, these words we speak. Will we choose well?
Note to self: Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. Ecclesiastes 10:12