Hey Church Family!
This week we look at the Apostle Paul to remind us of how to use our words. His approach begins with the idea that since we've met the real Jesus, everything has changed. You're no longer the same person you once were. You used to live however you wanted. You used to do whatever you wanted. You used to say whatever you wanted. But now that you've met Jesus, everything has changed. You're a new creation.
So, because you're a new creation, what comes out of your mouth really matters. Paul gives us two powerful word pictures to help us understand what to do when it comes to our words. The first is that we are to avoid foul words. The image he draws upon is the smell that comes from rotten fish. Essentially he says, "Avoid fish-mouth!" Don't let anything distasteful, unwholesome, or foul come out of your mouth. It's a very powerful image.
The second image Paul uses is that of a construction zone. He says, "Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say." (Ephesians 4:29) Paul wants us to imagine that when we enter into conversation with people, our conversations are construction zones. The words we use are the building materials. And with those words, we can build and improve people for the time we spent with them. It's for their benefit, not ours. And it is to be helpful. Which means, some of us need to dial it up a bit. Others of us need to dial it back a bit. Either way, we are to use words that help and build people up so that when the conversation is over, they are better for it.
Paul goes deeper though, as he normally does. Paul knows that our words actually stem from something deeper inside. It comes from our hearts. So Paul addresses something very critical. He says, "Set aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil." (Ephesians 4:31) It is as if he's saying you cannot be a builder if you're bitter. You cannot avoid fish-mouth if you're losing your temper. So get rid of it.
The way you get rid of it? To remember what God did for you. He forgave you. He was kind to you. He was compassionate toward you. And he asks us to do the same. (See Ephesians 4:32.)
So let me ask you— are your words building others up? Or demolishing them? Are you struggling with bitterness? Did someone from your past use words that hurt you? Do you find yourself hurting others with your words? Do you know how God treated you? Are you willing to treat others the way God treated you in Christ?
These are incredibly difficult questions, yet necessary questions for us to keep watch over our mouths.
My challenge for you this week: Memorize Ephesians 4:29-32. Write it down, post it in a prominent place, quote it often, and commit it to memory. You'll be surprised how often it comes to mind.
Together in Christ,
Notes from the Staff @The Woods