The Tongue

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 NKJV.

Ephesians 4:29 has also been translated in this way: “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.” 

Some time ago in Texas a 16-year-old beauty queen resigned her title and transferred to another school. It all happened after she failed to make the cheerleading squad and apparently verbally threatened the girls who did make the squad. The beauty queen says it was only words. Some of the students believe she was unfairly singled out. One student said, “I don’t think anyone thinks she really meant it.” Another said, “You’ve got to watch what you say, even if it’s just a joke.” How true! 

The Bible says, “Do not let any unwholesome communication come out of your mouths.” In the current atmosphere in which we live we can see immediately how helpful these words are. To avoid running down other people verbally, to avoid saying hurtful things obviously will save us and others a great amount of grief. 

You have to wonder how many fights have been started because of words? How many suicides have resulted because of words? How many marriages are broken because of words? How many parents and children are not talking because of words? How many wars because of words? As James said in James 3:5b-6a, “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.”

In Ephesians 4:30 the apostle Paul infers it grieves the Holy Spirit when our words are unwholesome or corrupt. Then, Paul goes on to say (v. 31), “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” As Christians we must remember that we are “Ambassadors of Christ.” We must go beyond simply not saying bad things. We must go beyond not starting wars to preventing them. How do we do that? We must choose our words carefully just like an ambassador from one country to another country would do.

The Bible has much advice about what to say. Here in Ephesians 4:29 we are told to speak only “what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” (Or, “only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”). Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” If we have an attitude of kindness, of being tenderhearted, of forgiveness it is much easier to say the right thing. Saying the right thing or the wrong thing, whether you mean it or not does matter, and can make an eternal difference in the lives of some. It may also very well determine your success or failure in life.

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