Monday, October 18, 2010

Words that Build Up, not Tear Down

I was reflecting on Ephesians 4:29 this morning, which says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

Yikes, that verse always challenges me. What's the area that's sometimes the hardest to control? Our mouth! I can think of so many things that come out of my mouth that don't please God. Gossip, cursing, slander, lies, flattery, boasting, mocking, etc. The list is long.

If I am truly a follower of Jesus and He is Lord of my life, that should mean He is Lord of my mouth! But how often is that not the case?

I was especially convicted of this truth as I've come to realize a few ways my mouth can be hurtful to others.

1) Teasing - There are a few girlfriends in my neighborhood who I've known for many years. We are very close and have a long history together. Therefore, we know each other quite well...which means, we know each other's weaknesses, quirks, habits, tendencies, etc. That can make teasing a very easy thing to do, especially to get a laugh from others in our group of friends, who know each other quite well. But I have come to realize that as fun as it is to tease and pick on one of my good friend's personality does it build her up? How does it encourage her, edify her, help her be more like Jesus? It doesn't. So I'm realizing...while it may be fun to get a reaction and make a little "innocent jab" to say "I know you too well"...if it's not helping my sweet friend be encouraged and built up in the body, it's not worth opening my mouth. Help me, Lord, to speak only words that edify!

2) Flattery - this is an area God has recently convicted me of. It may be something seemingly innocent, like telling someone you like their haircut or their cooking when you really don't. A little white lie. But other times, it might be something deeper, like when they share an issue with you and they want your advice, but you know they don't want to hear the Jesus-centered answer, so instead, you give them worldly advice. "Do what's best for you" or "I'm glad you got to express your opinion so directly" or "If it makes you happy, then go for it." That's what the world says. But if I truly love my friends, I want to give them advice from the only source that I believe is truly powerful and that truly heals: God's word. And it's not always a "feel good" answer. But I don't want to be one of those friends that tells you what you want to hear. I want to be someone my friends can go to and know they are getting a biblical, gospel-centered, grace-filled answer, an answer that truly heals and gives hope. And in return, I want them to do the same for me!

3) Cursing - this is just a plain bad habit of mine. yikes! Whether it's waiting in traffic, stubbing my toe, or realizing Marshall is pooping on me in the middle of a diaper's hard not to utter a few curse words every now and then. In the moment, nothing feels better to express frustration. But God's word calls us to speak words that edify, not tear down, and reminds us that our mouth is a "holy temple" that should reflect God's glory and that it should be used to speak beautiful, gracious, lovely things, not curse words. Lord, give me the self-control not to utter profanity every time I get frustrated!'

My prayer today is that we will speak words that encourage, heal, love, give hope, speak truth and build up...not tear down.

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