Ephesians 4:29 ‘Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.’
This scripture cuts straight to the heart. Right to the core. Ouch!
I’m reminded of it when I’m tempted to say something unwholesome. But I’m often reminded of it after I’ve already said something unwholesome.
But what about when someone else gushes out the unwholesome talk? What do you do with this truth when someone else is not building you up? Maybe it feels like you’re being torn down instead.
Your spouse mutters something harsh.
Your child spurts out sass.
Your co-worker offends you.
Your neighbor calls you a name I can’t type out on this blog.
Yes. We’ve all had someone speak unwholesome words to us.
I want to bring up this verse to them in that moment. I yearn to spout off the memorized words as a rebuttal!
Don’t you know what God’s word says about how you’re speaking to me? Don’t you know how you’re coming across?
I open my Bible so I can see the verse up close–rubbing my finger across these powerful words. The whole time thinking that I deserve to be built up instead of torn down.
I’ve been the one to speak unwholesome words before.
But not this time.
I’ve been hurt with harsh words. Sassy words. Offensive words. Words that cut deep to my core. I even let out a prayer that goes something like this:
Jesus, I’m so upset right now. Did you hear what he/she said to me? Did you see that play out? Do you know how I feel right now?
Turning to verse Ephesians 4:29, I read it again. Feeling justified with how this person has indeed spoken unwholesome words to me, I let out a sigh.
Keep reading, Lisa.
Keep going, there’s more.
Just three verses away from verse 29, I read verse 32. It knocks the breath out of me. I didn’t know this verse was here.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
After I let this powerful truth sink in, I realize something. Verse 32 is written on the tails of verse 29 for a reason. Don’t miss this!
Other people will speak unwholesome words to us. Other people will sometimes tear us down.
Yes, the standard is to speak wholesome words. Yes, the command is to build up.
But we live in a fallen world. We are surrounded by other sinners. We are sinners.
So when other people don’t live up to verse 29, I’m commanded to forgive them in verse 32. I might expect my loved ones to model verse 29, but I should be willing to forgive with the truth from verse 32.
I love how God inspired Paul to write these verses in this specific order! We should strive to weigh our words carefully. We should pray for our loved ones to do the same.
But when they don’t…(not IF!)
We go to the feet of Jesus and humbly ask him for the power and strength to FORGIVE.
There are times when we need to hold people accountable for their words. Times to discipline children for their words. And sometimes people seek help for verbally abusive situations.
But ultimately we are still called to forgive.
It’s hard and I don’t always feel like doing it.
In those moments, we are given the choice to surrender our wounded heart to the one who forgave and continues to forgive us.
What about you? Do you struggle with speaking unwholesome words? How do you respond when someone speaks unwholesome words to you?
Blessings to you!