Edifying Moment

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.

We left off last week, in our Ephesians series, talking about how to react when angered. Here is what Father God would have you do when you are angry. Rather than giving place to the devil we are supposed to say things which are edifying. To edify means to build up. In other words, we are to speak those words which build up others rather than tearing them down.

Now really, this is not hard to understand, just kinda hard to do at times, but with Jesus all things are possible. I do not begin to say that you should do this in your own strength but rather that you should surrender your will to Jesus and let Him be the graciousness you need. And do you see that God will give all grace to all who are in need? He will fill the space with his grace where previously your old self would have filled the air with blue streaks. Now by humility and prayer a bad situation becomes a time of grace and blessing. When you yield your will to God, He is able to take all that is bad and turn it into the beauty of who He is.

In your time of need, before you give voice to your emotions, pray for the Lord of Hosts to be God of the situation, God of the moment and God of all that you are. Pray for Him to move in His grace rather than you moving in your emotions. You will see incredible moves of the Lord when you yield to His leading in such times.

Dangerous Language

Romans 1:29 – 31

[B]eing filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful.

Paul is describing a wretched group of people here. First, he shows the malevolence with which they are filled and then he tells us how those things manifest. He begins with “they are gossips” and then goes on through some pretty atrocious attributes. It strikes me that he begins this list of horrible characteristics with gossiping. One would think Paul could have headed his list with something more diabolical than gossip. But maybe, just maybe, gossiping is much more treacherous that we thought. Otherwise, why is it even included in this list? It is keeping pretty bad company.

Most of us recognize the other items in this list and most of us would denounce them. But how many would say that gossip is a real problem and denounce it? How many of us would balk at a gossiper as we would a hater of God or an arrogant, boastful inventor of evil? You see, God is showing us in this passage that the same unloving attitude that makes one an evil hater of God is that which causes us to gossip. Gossip is malignant and creates discord and strife in the body of Christ. It is a big problem as evidenced by its inclusion in this verse. Paul wished to cut it off in the churches to which he ministered. We, therefore, need to be mindful of gossip as well.

Gossiping is not really frowned upon in our society as can be easily evidenced by watching any reality show. They are all about drama and gossip. How many other television shows are completely based on gossip or gossiping? Quite a few. This general acceptance in our society makes it difficult for Christians to recognize the danger of gossip. It even cloaks when Christians are participating in gossip because it does not stand out anymore. And it seems that no one is immune to either the lure or the effect of gossip. But gossip is very damaging to the body of Christ.

Thus, we must all be vigilante to police our words and root out gossip from our lives. As Ephesians 4: 29 instructs us, we should only speak those words which are good for edification. And when we find ourselves trapped in a conversation which turns to gossip and running others down, we must find ways to extricate ourselves. It is best for us when we are around others who are using their words for edification rather than for tearing apart. And maybe as we make an effort to remove ourselves from gossip, others might be influenced as well. Take this message from Paul to heart and be mindful about the things you say and help others grow in their use of language too.

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.