The words we use have power. They have the capacity to tear people down or to build them up. We can use our words for revenge, to manipulate, and to make others suffer. We can also use our words to make others laugh, to encourage, and to help bear the burdens of others. We have a tremendous capacity to bring either darkness or light into the world through the words that we choose to use.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul makes it clear that what we say should be helpful and should be build up the community. We are to set aside negative and evil behaviors in favor of those things that are positive and Holy. What we say and how we say it is a massive part of how we live that out.
Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy – you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other in the same way God forgave you in Christ. – Ephesians 4:29-32
Our speech should be filled with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. What we say should reflect the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus. It isn’t easy to get to that point. We can tend to be impulsive creatures. That means that sometimes things come out of our mouths before we have thought through the implications of those words. This can be particularly true as we consider our social media presence and the negativity that can come along with it.
Consider these words from the Book of James:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. – James 3:9-12
Questions for Reflection:
- Does your speech reflect your relationship with Jesus?
- What areas of speech do you struggle with (negativity, lying, words of anger, gossip, unkind words, broken promises, slander)?
- Are you regularly praying that God will help you to have positive and uplifting conversations with others?