Ephesians Day 17: Words That Build
“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.” (4:29)
What Paul writes here will be quite a challenge to most of us. Granted, he’s writing in a very different culture with completely different etiquette and standards, but the underlying lesson is evergreen and universally relevant. Our words matter. Our words have a big impact.
Now these verses aren’t supposed to be a killjoy and aren’t saying that we can’t have fun or joke around with each other. But there are limits and there may be times when we need to row back a bit. Verse 29 asks us to consider carefully the impact of our words on others. When does banter become belittling, or worse, bullying? If you’re not absolutely 100% sure where that line is, then take care.
What would happen if we set ourselves the challenge of speaking only words that benefit others? How much would we actually talk? Many of us would be completely silenced. But the truth is that if what we say is not benefitting others, many of our words will be wasted.
Our words are meant to build others up, strengthening their walls, shoring their foundations and providing shelter against the downpour of criticism and disparagement from other quarters.
Words can build up or tear down. Good words well spoken can help create a solid structure that will stand the test of time and provide shelter and inspiration to others; but likewise bad words ill-chosen, words of bitterness, envy or spite, can knock down people’s confidence and leave them exposed to all the negativity and demotivation that’s out there.
And see what it says about ‘according to their needs’? That means we have to tailor our words for each person and situation. There is no one-size-fits-all. Instead, we should think carefully about what would benefit that particular person. What are her needs, how can I build him up?
Use your words to build something that will last.
To take away: Take a moment to think about one person in your life, perhaps someone God has put on your heart recently? What are their needs, how can they be built up, and how can your words help achieve that?
This is the 17th post in a 31-day walk through Ephesians. I’d love for you to join me in exploring this amazing book of the Bible for the rest of the month of May. Every day you’ll find a new post with fresh encouragement from God’s word. I hope this series blesses you, and if it does, please share it with others. Thank you.