Building Up or Tearing Down?
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32
Many years ago, I was informally counseling a couple having marital problems. She was frustrated with him for not paying enough attention to her … and she let him know it by the things she said. It was a classic “love and respect” problem. As I listened to the wife tear her husband down with her sharp-tongued words, I said to myself, “Terri, if you could only hear the things coming out of your mouth. No wonder your husband spends so much time at the office. People don’t bash, belittle, and disrespect him there.”
Have you ever stopped to really listen to yourself? Have you ever truly considered the words that you allow to come out of your mouth? Ask yourself these questions:
Are you speaking words of edification or words of destruction?
Do your words give grace to those who hear or do they give grief?
Do your words please the Holy Spirit or grieve the Holy Spirit?
Are your words laced with bitterness and slander or coated with blessing and sweetness? Be honest, what type of conversation is proceeding from your mouth?
God makes it crystal clear that we are to be careful what we speak because “death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). James said the tongue is “a restless evil and full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). If you and I are not careful to think before we speak, we will undoubtedly fall into the trap of using our tongues to spread poison and inflict death on family members, friends, classmates, workmates, and neighbors.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Why is the tongue full of deadly poison? Where do the rotten words come from? Jesus said, “The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34). Your mouth is like a bucket, and your heart is the well. If rottenness is found in your “bucket,” it is because rottenness is present in your heart. The answer is not to wash your mouth out with soap, but rather to deal with the sin and bitterness that have obviously found a home in your heart.
TAKE THE ROTTENNESS TO GOD
What do you do when you have been hurt and mistreated and, therefore, believe you are “justified” in lashing out with your tongue? Take the hurt and mistreatment to God. Share it all with Him … and leave it there. If there is bitterness within you as clearly revealed by the words you are speaking, get that bitterness out of your heart and under His blood. Confess it to Him, repent and claim His abundant forgiveness. He wants to give you a pure heart like His. And when your heart is right, when the well is clean, the mouth brings forth words that bless and refresh like cold water to a thirsty soul.
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.