I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. this past Wednesday morning with the Scripture reference Ephesians 4:29. That’s it. Just the Scripture reference. Of course I tried to go back to sleep, but that was a crazy idea! Since it was not a verse I had committed to memorization, I needed to look it up.
As with other Scriptures that the LORD has placed on my heart upon awakening, it was very appropriate for my current situation. I have been dealing with a sensitive situation and I needed this verse to remind me how it should be handled as far as it concerns me. Okay, let’s just be honest, here. I needed this verse to remind me how I should handle my own mouth!
I decided to use two of the tools that we have acquired in our small group, TOOLS for a LIFETIME, to study this verse in detail. I printed the verse in columns on a piece of paper in three different translations (NIV, ESV, NASB) and I used the “I see” method. Then I summarized the results. Below, you will find my journal notes to Ephesians 4:29. “I see” is noted in italics. What follows, in regular font, are my thoughts to what I saw. After the summary, I have noted references to Scriptures that came to my mind as I worked through this verse.
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.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
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.
I see- Do not let; let no: Allow. This means what follows in this verse or passage is under my control.
I see- unwholesome talk, unwholesome words: Foul language, offensive slang, hurtful words, gossip.
I see- corrupting talk: Infected, dishonest, death, decay. Corrupt in the Bible means death.
I see- come out of your mouth: The words I say.
I see- but: This means what comes next is what I should say or do.
I see- what is helpful, what is good: What will benefit someone. What is right.
I see– building up, edification: What encourages, strengthens, supports, lifts, instructs, teaches.
I see- according to their needs: Every need is different.
I see- as fits the occasion, according to the need of the moment: Not only is every need different but the circumstance is different as well. How I speak depends, not only on the need itself, but also on the situation and the person who is in need of helpful words. The words I want to say might not fit the moment. If moment is not right, don’t say them.
I see- that it may, so that: The reason my words should be helpful and good are for desired results. I think it also means that the words I say, although good and helpful, might not be received by the other person as such.
I see- Benefit, give grace: I say words that give value. I say words of mercy. I say words of forgiveness (according to the moment).
I see- those who listen, those who hear: The words I speak can be heard. The words I speak can be heard not only by the person to whom I am speaking, but to any person who is within earshot. It also means that just because I speak and the other person hears, they may not actually listen.
I have control over what I say. I shouldn’t use foul, hurtful, or abusive language. I should refrain from saying things that hurt, slander, hear-say or gossip. I should never allow myself to say things that tear another person down. All of these things bring death. The words I say can be heard by anyone. The words I say are heard by God.
The words I say should not be idle, they should fit the moment and they should always be spoken in truth with a foundation of love.
My words should build up and not tear down.
Sometimes my words may not be what a person wants to hear, but if the moment is right, my words may be what they need to hear. I must understand and accept that the other person may not receive. I must also understand and control my words when I know that they will not be of benefit at this moment. Sometimes, it is best that they remain unspoken. However, I must also understand that sometimes I must say words that I know will not be well received but there is benefit and grace in saying them. Whatever the moment, love is the foundation.
Proverbs 18:21 (NASB)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
2 Timothy 2:14-16
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,
Matthew 12:34-37 (NASB)
34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”