29 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.
Have you ever thought about how your words impact the lives of others? Before you read on I want you to take 10 minutes and reflect on words that have been pivotal in your life, good or bad.
What if these things had never been said to you? Our words have a tremendous ability to heal and bring peace Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” or to hurt and destroy others Proverbs 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. This verse is talking about more than just gossip, lying, foul language, and slander; it’s about serving others through your words. At the heart of this verse is the question, “Are you serving or slaying others with your words?”
James says that although the tongue is small it packs a huge punch! Helpful speech has several qualities:
As a culture our words have taken on a distinctive edge, it seems like the pressures of this life grind away at us until the words coming out of us become sharp and dangerous. Yet gentleness in our voice is like a soothing ointment to the cuts of this life, it not only helps us control our outburst, it helps when others blow up at us. Proverbs 15:1 says that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Are my words gentle or harsh?
Words have the ability to instruct and to guide and we need to ask ourselves, “Are my words destructive or instructive?” Somewhere along the way we have come to believe in a God who only says no, yet as you read through His word He not only gives instruction as to why He says no but He also instructs us in what He wants us to be doing. Our God is not a God of NO’s. Many of us shy away from instruction for fear of criticism but helpful speech goes beyond criticizing us and offers a helping hand. Speech can be both constructive and instructive and the bible is not a book of don’t but rather of do. Do you see God’s word as instructive? How about your words are they destructive or instructive?
To edify means to build up and we need to ask ourselves “Is my speech building up or tearing down?” Think back to those times in your life when someone spoke and it was like a breath of fresh air that filled your sails or a firm foundation that braced you up. Our words can be girders that build a bridge to span the impassible rivers of life, or they can be the fire that burns those bridges down. Who are you building up today?
- Other Focused
So many times our speech is delivered to build up but it is not so much other focused but self-focused, and the goal becomes nothing more than a pat on our own back. So the question becomes, “Who am I trying to build up?” Speech is an incredible gift given to us by a loving Father for the purpose of relationships. Have you ever thought of your words as gifts, gifts are meant to be given to others with their needs in mind, how often do we give our words like that? We have to be other focused if we are ever going to know other’s needs, and it’s not just about knowing but about meeting those needs. The question is not are others listening but “Is what I am saying benefitting?” So who are you benefiting by what you are saying?
Who do you need to serve today through your words?