Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
As Christians, we know we’re supposed to do good things. We know we’re supposed to love God, obey him, and love our neighbors, but when it comes to the doing, many of us aren’t sure where to start. We imagine that service to God must mean working in a homeless shelter or moving to a far-off land to live in an orphanage. Maybe those shouldn’t seem like such impossible tasks, but they do. So, we do nothing, and we change nothing, just going through life no differently from anyone else.
As Christians we’re supposed to live differently though and in today’s passage, Paul provides one of the most obvious ways we can follow God’s will. In the passage, Paul said that we must guard our tongues, carefully choosing our words. We shouldn’t indulge in corrupt talk, tearing others down, but rather, we should speak in such a way that builds others up.
When I think of corrupt language, I think first of curse words. Last night as I was lugging my garbage up a long, icy driveway in the dark, I spilled trash everywhere. In my anger, I let out a few expletives. Now I’m not defending those foul words but swearing wasn’t my worst failure. My worst failure was when I brought my frustration back inside and spoke harshly to my wife and kids. Those hurtful words were far more destructive than any bad word I said in the driveway.
Maybe we need to clean up our cursing, but today’s passage is more about the way we use our words to hurt or help each other. Most of us have daily judgmental, condescending thoughts about others. Many of us share those thoughts out loud with others. We may not say the harsh thing directly to the one we’re talking about but still, our words tear down. They ridicule. They hurt. In our petty pride, we use our words to speak evil instead of good.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. If we’ve known Christ’s love, then we should be willing to share that love with those around us. One of the most obvious ways can do this is through our speech. Instead of speaking malicious words about others and to others, we can daily choose to say constructive things to those around us. We don’t need to move to a far-off orphanage to do good things for God. We can do good things right where we’re at, daily using our words for good instead of evil.