I woke up this morning with Ephesians 4:29 on my heart. “No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29, HCSV).
Many other versions use the word “unwholesome” rather than rotten, but the principle is the same. Speech is meant to build people up rather than to tear them down. According to Jesus, a speech problem is really a heart problem. “…for the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matt 12: 34b, HCSV). How often do we use words to set people in their place? To make ourselves look better? To say something in private about somebody we’d likely not say to them face to face? When these things start to happen, the reality is that we must come before God and ask Him to begin to examine our heart, for if the heart issue isn’t settled, the speech issue never will be.
Many relationships and churches have been destroyed because our speech was not sprinkled with grace. Paul warned in Colossians that we should put “…anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech…” from our mouths aside (Col. 3:8b, NASB). The conversations that take place about people behind their backs in the hallways in churches and around the dinner tables of homes are the ones that do the most damage. We’re told to speak the truth in love. However, much of what we say in private that we believe is true we don’t find a way to say lovingly to the brother or sister that needs to hear it.
May our prayer be that we would have a clean heart so that the purity of our heart before God would be reflected in our speech before men.