Posts Tagged Ephesians 4: 29

Space of Grace

Ephesians 4: 29

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.

If you do not stumble here, then you are a perfect person for this is where we usually trip up ourselves, with our mouths. That is the ultimate insight. We damage ourselves with our mouths.

At first reading, this passage is clear enough. However, as we continue to ponder this scripture, one begins to hear a lifestyle emerging through it. Paul was encouraging Christian unity in this chapter. Clearly, there will be no unity in any group if its members do not police their words. Paul leads us a step further though. His words direct us to edify one another with our words. In this he creates a distinction. He didn’t say, “Just keep your mouth shut,” which, by almost anyone’s standard, is good advice. Paul teaches us, instead, to speak words of grace. Our words can lift the hearer. They can build up the group.

Here is the hard part, Paul would have us avoid making statements that are even true if they are likely to disparage another. We are not talking here about lying, never let it be said, but some things just don’t need to be said. As a former lawyer, I can tell you that I struggle with this. Truth is truth and so often I think the scoundrel should be exposed. This is where the world’s way of thinking diverges from God’s way of doing. That is why we have to pay such close attention to the Word. The world’s teaching is engrained within us. Sometimes we have to root it out by really seeing what the Word teaches.

Everything God ever told us, or ever will tell us is for our own good. He didn’t give us a bunch of rules to steal the life from us. He gave us rules to give us life, and that more abundantly. When we let unwholesome speech out of our mouths, we damage ourselves, those who hear, and we do no great favor to the heart of God. However, since we are growing up in the things of God, let us not stop with bridling our tongues. Let’s learn to direct our language in a way which edifies others. Find the space of grace and share it with others. Words can hurt but they can also heal. Use yours to unite and console.

Leadership Trait

2 Chronicles 32: 1 – 8

After these acts of faithfulness Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and besieged the fortified cities, and thought to break into them for himself.  Now when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem,  he decided with his officers and his warriors to cut off the supply of water from the springs which were outside the city, and they helped him. So many people assembled and stopped up all the springs and the stream which flowed through the region, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find abundant water?”  And he took courage and rebuilt all the wall that had been broken down and erected towers on it, and built another outside wall and strengthened the Millo in the city of David, and made weapons and shields in great number.  He appointed military officers over the people and gathered them to him in the square at the city gate, and spoke encouragingly to them, saying,  “Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him.  With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

You’ve heard it said that attitude determines altitude. A person’s attitude towards the situations of life determines how they will come through those circumstances. King Hezekiah shows us the attitude of a good leader.

The scripture says that in the face of Sennacherib’s threats Hezekiah gathered the people and spoke encouragingly to them. That is what we should be doing. Encouragement is a big deal. In fact, God has told us to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5: 11). Since discovering that God commands us to be encouragers I have been watching people. Some people are very good at it. Some people even seem anointed of God as encouragers. Then I discovered something. Leaders are encouragers. It turns out that encouraging others is a big part of what it means to be a leader. I didn’t know that.

Hezekiah saw that the threat to the people of Judah was not only to their persons but first to their psyche. The Assyrians were not knocking on their door for a tea party. Hezekiah knew that people would begin to be afraid so he gathered them together and encouraged them. You don’t have to hang out with God, the Father very long to find out where Hezekiah learned this skill. God constantly encourages and uplifts. We have all heard this verse from Ephesians, “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, so that it will give grace to those who hear” (4: 29). We have focused on restricting unwholesome words but there is a second mandate; make it a point to speak words which build people up. That is what edification is, building people up. When someone does a good job, leaders tell them so.

I wonder sometimes if we have become such a broken people that we feel like we are diminishing ourselves if we lift others up. Really the opposite is true. We build ourselves when we lift others. This is such a big deal that the Apostle Paul wrote about it at least five times. I like what he wrote in Romans 15: 2, “Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” Did you know this was the message of Christianity? Can’t say that I did but now none of us have the excuse of ignorance any longer. We have all been called by Christ as leaders. We are the ones who are supposed to be encouraging the frightened, and lifting up the weary. Start today being an encourager. If you cannot find someone to encourage, you aren’t trying very hard. Be a blessing of the Lord.

Power Tools

Ephesians 4: 29

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.

God is serious about our words and how we use them. We can use them to build up others or tear them down. The word edification means instruction or enlightenment, especially when it is morally or spiritually uplifting (Encarta Dictionary). So, therefore, we are supposed to use language with each other that is uplifting. If people feel better and/or encouraged after speaking with you, then you are fulfilling the direction and purpose of God. But if people feel frustrated, hurt or bad when they leave your presence, then you are not using your words in a way that God will approve. Language is a powerful tool that we have for good or for ill. It is so powerful and so important that it is the weapon that God gave us with which to battle our enemies. He didn’t give us lightning bolts or fire balls that shoot from our fingertips. He gave us his most powerful weapon; words. Each of us must make wise choices with this awesome power.