Ephesians 4:29 (NIV): “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 spent over 30 years in the military. I have definitely heard “unwholesome talk.” When I would walk up to Soldiers and hear their talk, many times they would look up, see me, and immediately say, “Oh, sorry about that, Chaplain.” I would respond by saying that God is listening all the time, and then try to engage them in conversation.
Unwholesome talk is pervasive in our culture. It seems to be a way to fit in these days. Movies and television shows embrace words that I feel are inappropriate, but many people choose to use those words in their daily communication. Unfortunately, even in a “Christian” movie I watched recently, they had the Christian “hero” use unwholesome talk repeatedly. I was very disappointed. But also know, unwholesome talk can include the way we talk about those we disagree with, or perhaps even how we talk about our own children or spouse. The war of words is more than just profanity.
The above verse challenges me to instead use words that are “helpful for building others up according to their needs.” I pray that I can use words that help others. This doesn’t mean that I avoid the truth. In fact, earlier in this chapter Paul shared in verse 15, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Speaking the truth in love means that I respectfully, lovingly, honestly, speak truth with others on subjects that our culture differs from scripture. If I don’t speak, then how will they know the truth? If my speaking the truth brings people closer to God, then it will “benefit those who listen.”
Prayer: Lord God, may I choose my words carefully. May I avoid unwholesome talk while speaking words that help others and build them up. May I know your Word so that I can know your truth.