Watching the words we speak

Ephesians-4--29

On September 19, 2014, I begin my day with the Verse of the Day found in the New Living Translation of Ephesians 4:29:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

This exhortation to pay attention to the words we speak is expanded in the passage from Ephesians 4:29-32 (KJV), as Paul employs the figure of speech called polysyndeton or many “ands” to reinforce his message:

29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Romans 14:19 also reminds us:

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Colossians 4:6 also offers this encouragement regarding the words we speak:

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

In a previous blog entry, “Guarding the mouth gate: speak no evil,” I comment that the verses from Ephesians and elsewhere serve to make believers aware of what they say. For the words that we speak are expressions of what is in our hearts. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” says Solomon. With this in mind, John Bunyan recognizes that individuals must become guardians of “every gate that opens in our heart.” Howard Morgan speaks of “gates” in this way: “They are the places that we have to monitor diligently so that we allow only that which is positive and healthy into our lives.” Three such gates are the “ear gate,” “eye gate,” and “mouth gate.” The picture of the three wise monkeys comes to mind to remind us that we must consciously seek to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.”

Without question, as believers we must watch what we speak and speak no evil. Since “life and death are in the power of the tongue,” we must carefully choose the words that we speak, recognizing:

The Power of the Tongue

But the tongue can no man tame;

it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison

James 3:8

 

We know the tongue has power to generate life,

To produce seeds that will eventually take root

And will bring forth two very different kinds of fruit:

Love, joy and peace or envy, confusion and strife

Can build or destroy a brother, a friend, a wife.

With his hand, the helmsman easily turns great ships,

So we covenant to guard the gates of our lips,

For words can heal or pierce the heart as a sharp knife.

We desire life and long to see good all our days,

So we speak the truth and refrain from speaking lies.

Like Jesus, we want our tongues to speak what God says.

We seek to be wise but never in our own eyes.

Pressing toward the finish, the coming of God’s kingdom,

We seek not just a word but the spirit of wisdom.

We are encouraged to make positive confessions and to speak words of positive affirmation regarding ourselves and others.  Johnny Holmes expresses the essence of the our desire that thoughts that come from our hearts conveyed in the words that come from our mouths will be acceptable unto God, as revealed in Psalm 19:14:

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight. O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

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