Our Words Matter

In the first three chapters of Ephesians, Paul lays out what a Christian should believe – the essential truths of the Christian faith. Then he transitions to how a Christian should live.

In 4:29 he pauses to provide extremely helpful guidance for how a Christian should speak. He states, “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.”

First, a Christian should be marked by what he doesn’t say. The term used for “unwholesome” literally means “rottenness” and “giving off rottenness.” These are words that have a destructive effect on those around us – gossip, slander, malice. Theses should not be on our lips.

Second, a Christian should say words that are helpful for building others up and benefit those who hear. Christianity isn’t demonstrated just by avoiding evil; we must also pursue good. With our mouths, we need to encourage, be thankful, communicate gratefulness, and help those who are down. Our words are to be a blessing to others and meet the needs of those around us.

Notice Paul focuses on the effect our words have on others. We live in a community and function in various groups – our family, our classmates, our friends. Our words can make our social circles stronger or weaker. A genuine Christian should aim to build up others and avoid tearing them down.

How do you talk to your parents and siblings? How do you talk with your closest friends? Evaluate yourself with the standards of Scripture laid out in Ephesians 4:29, and seek develop a personal, biblical conviction regarding your words.

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