Let’s not let our mouths set our hearts, but revere in our hearts Christ as Lord. Then, let our hearts filter what we say.
(10) Do not slander a servant to their master…(14) those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives…(32) clap a hand over your mouth!
The apostle Paul is very forthcoming in telling us how we should view/talk to each other. I put “view” and “talk” together because once we say something unkind (truthful or not!) out loud about someone, we form an attitude and it becomes concrete in our minds–unless the Holy Spirit convicts us and we repent. It is DANGEROUS to speak maliciously about anyone!
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” Ephesians 4:25.
Sounds easy enough: Just don’t lie to each other, right? But, that’s just the beginning. Look at what else he says:
(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.”
I think that sometimes we would do well to not speak at all! On the other hand, with a little spiritual help (prayer), we can take what we were going to say and turn it into something that gives insight and lifts up. Our conversations work three ways:
- Ourselves- When we voice a thought, we take responsibility for that thought. We give it weight whether it is true or not. If it is untrue or unkind, then we have to deal with it as sin.
- The person to whom we are talking- We don’t want to mislead him or make him think poorly about whom we are talking, nor do we want him to think poorly of us, which he will if we speak unkindly or maliciously.
- The person about which we are talking- He is not there to defend himself against any accusations we might bring. In fact, as fellow Christians, he probably trusts that we will have his back in any conversation.
By the way, “malicious talk” includes humorous sarcasm. Just because it’s funny doesn’t make it okay to make fun of someone. Revealing embarrassing facts is cruel, too.
The following verse is our motivation for keeping verse 29:
(30) And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Instead, let’s give Him cause to rejoice! Let’s set up some filters:
- “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths”- No unwholesome talk. No crude language or coarse joking (5:4). No inflammatory remarks.
- “but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs”- Is it helpful? Will it make the other person look good in the eyes of the one to whom you are talking? Make it so. “And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride.” Let’s let each other save face and give each other an “out.”
- “That it may benefit those who listen”– If a concern is shared, be sure to pray with the person right then about the one whom you shared the concern. That way, there is NO MISUNDERSTANDING about what you meant when you shared what you shared. All three of you will benefit from prayer!
Let’s remember that the Church, the Family of God, is where we practice our Christianity. I quoted a verse from a song earlier. Here’s the rest of that line, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, and they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Abba, I not only want to lose the habit of talking about someone without that person present, I want to somehow get others to quit when I’m around. Hopefully, they will quit doing it altogether! Help me, O Lord, to speak to others in love when they are not speaking of others in love. Show me how to be respectful and kind, but firm and unyielding in this matter. Above all, I want to love as You love. Teach me, Lord. I am Yours. Amen.