“Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” – Ephesians 4:29
Recently in preparation for this summer, I read the book “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer. Essentially it is about the importance of being open, humble, and just as willing to learn from others as to teach them when it comes to the Bible. One of the main points I found interesting matched up with the above verse, which I came across a few days later.
Elmer makes the point that when we interact with others, our words and actions either bless or curse them. This may seem extreme, but really there is no gray area between the two. If you are not being kind, building someone up, using positive words, and so forth, then you are not helping anyone. There was a great deal more explanation than that, but essentially that is the just of it. This fairly blunt truth is something that has really resonated with me.
As somewhat of a chatterbox myself, there are most likely many times that I use more words than necessary to detail an event. While, to be honest, that is probably unlikely to change very much, it has gotten me to think more about the manner in which I am relaying things. Often when I am nervous I can become very sarcastic, mix up my words, or make awkward comments. Once I get to know someone this usually passes, but in the event that I am talking about my faith with a stranger, what kind of impression might that leave upon them? What am I choosing to discuss with other people? Am I talking about how tired I am or about someone else’s problem, or am I encouraging the other person or talking about some good news I heard earlier? Just because I am not using crass language with every other word does not mean that my language cannot be classified as foul at times. Every time I say anything that is not blessing another person in some manner, it is considered unworthy.
Is this a completely realistic expectation, to never say anything but words that help people? No. Is it a goal that I can constantly keep in mind and be working on? Definitely.
Song quote time:
Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out
Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You
-“Words” – Hawk Nelson