I would be lying if I didn’t say the past few days have been a struggle. This struggle has nothing to do with spiritual sobriety. It is in the feeling of writing where I have come to discover true struggle hiding in the shadows.
While I have you all here, allow me to introduce you to “writer’s block.” It has been awhile since I’ve had the pleasure of its company. While I am impressed with it’s stubborn efforts, please allow me to show “it” the door. It’s the one that leads away from this creative room I call my head. As the “block” walks on toward the inevitability of another day down this path, the fountain of encouraging words flows again.
Words are meant to encourage and edify, and as much as the first paragraph may not have encouraged you. It did encourage my flow of creativity. It is now my hope that the following words may encourage you.
Did you know that we speak about twenty thousand words a day? Words flow with ease from our mouths and carry quite the impact on those who surround us. But how much of that flow is fulfilling God’s sole purpose for edifying those to whom you are speaking? How many of your words reflect pride, rather than the motivated gospel of humility?
Our words are powerful and our words matter. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). It is God Himself who has nourished our voice with strength and significance. He designed our communication skills with such power for one primary purpose. Do you know what that purpose is?
In a profound passage from Paul to the Ephesians, Paul provides an abundance of understanding about our words and their God-ordained goal—both what it is, and clearly what it is not.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that may give grace to those that hear.”
Do you see how meticulously this knowledge applies to our words? Paul is saying plain as day that there is a certain kind of communication that’s never to come from our mouths, and another kind that should be in everything we say. That’s how far and wide the reach of this knowledge really is. Paul is employing a contrast here to teach us all—the prior Scripture is a “not that/but this” statement, which clearly shows us the kind of words God forbids as well as the kind of words He commands.
The words that God forbids are “corrupting talk.” Are you familiar with talk that corrupts? It is a daily temptation and it rests in the tendencies of us all. Corrupting words bring degeneration to a soul—they are words portrayed by fatality instead of words that that bring life to the conversation within a soul. In the passage from Paul, God has wisely forbid us from communicating with others in ways that are detrimental to them—words that degrade and defile someone.
Corrupting talk is a harmful form of communication; it refers to any talk that deters from growth in godliness. These tortorous words can and will hinder the cultivation of godly relationships and they have deadening effects on other souls. It is in the nature of such violent communication to penetrate and spread cancerous through another soul, and these words “grieve of the Holy Spirit.” Therefore no such talk shall be allowed in the house of God. There shall be no decaying words spoke of any kind, in any form, at any time, by anyone.
From the perspective of God, how many of your twenty thousand words each day carry the characteristics of corruption?
Words are intended to communicate with encouragement. Our words are to edify—they should “build up.” This goes for all forms of communication. In Paul’s speech we are definitely directed to communicate only those words that edify. What are edifying words?
They are not simply polite words. And they certainly aren’t words that just flatter, nor are they spoken in the superficial sense that is centered on the self-exalting of a man’s pride.
True edifying words are words that reveal character and a promise through the activity of God. They are words that are centered at the cross and they spill from the bottom of a heart. They are rooted in Scripture and they identify with good-natured dynamics and the presence of God.
Words must communicate the evidence of grace that you observe in others. They are words that flow from the humbled heart. Since we are commanded to communicate only through kind words that build another soul, we should see the blessing of positive communication as a right and not necessarily just a privilege. But what a privilege it is to be instructed so sweet.
Since Scripture enlightens us that God is at work in every soul that has been regenerated, we have the joy of bringing to the attention of every soul in this world how we perceive God to be at work in their lives, we are able to discern how God is active in their lives, and draw attention to that, then we celebrate it be delivering these words of hope to another soul.
Now we have touched another soul by building them up and edifying them. It is not only our privilege but also our responsibility to speak to others with words of encouragement and edification.
In Paul’s message we are also instructed that communication always be purposeful, and that purpose is that it may give grace to those that hear. The biblical purpose is that in every interaction of communication you have, is that the person who hears you will receive grace.
We are all in need of grace. There’s no one that you know who doesn’t need more of it. And God has so composed society that when we are gathered amongst each other with casual conversation we should both deliver grace and receive grace with the exchange of edifying words that lift the spirits of all.
Corrupting words are the fruits of pride and they reveal pride, while words that edify are the fruits of the heart that have been regenerated by the gospel of Christ and evidence that a heart has been humbled by the gospel, and that the Hand of God is still nourishing the spirit of love.
When you examine your words and what you speak you discover your heart and soul. The use of our communicative skills is the hinge on which the door into our souls swings open to reveal our true spirit. Pride is something that is not easily cultivated in the garden of humbling communication.
I hope you all have a blessed holidays and practice using edifying words on those “relatives” that drive you to the brink of insanity, just remember that one of their many graceful attributes is quite simple, through thick and thin they are your family.
*I leave you all with what I’ve always considered my favorite “Christmas” song.