Do people hear grace when you speak?
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. Ephesians 4:29
I read this yesterday during my quite time. I’ve read this verse countless times, but yesterday it came alive. Many thoughts assailed my brain. There are so many things you can glean from this text. Here are a couple that came to me…
1. No corrupting talk. This is a command. It is not an option. Paul isn’t saying “Hey, I know it’s tough, but if you think about, try and keep those corrupting words off your lips.” No, it’s an absolute command. There is no way to get around it. No way to interpret it differently. No means none. Absolutely none. Zero. Nada. Zilch. No corrupting talk…absolutely nothing unkind, crude, contemptuous, slanderous, disparaging, divisive. If it corrupts, it should not come out of my mouth. Ouch!
2. As is good for building up, as fits the occasion. This phrase particularly struck home. It’s easy to assume that if you must speak gracefully, that you are always sticky sweet. You know, that sweet southern belle, the kind of person that niceness just drips from. She never says an unkind thing, but she also never confronts. What comes out of our mouths should be good for the occasion. Sometimes that means asking hard questions. Sometimes that means reading Scripture instead of running my mouth. Sometimes that means gently correcting my brother or sister in the Lord. It may mean not speaking. It may mean pointing out evidences of Gods grace. It may look like reminding my friend of where God IS working. It may be complimenting them on a new outfit. It may be kindly challenging them. There is no cookie cutter way to build up, it depends on the occasion and how the Holy Spirit is leading.
3. Grace to those who hear. What do people hear from my mouth? Do they hear grace? Do they hear the gospel? Are they more aware of God’s gracious working in their life or what they do wrong? As someone once asked, “Is my life a sweet aroma of the gospel?” Do I speak graciously? What do people hear the most from my mouth? Impatience? Things of this world? Or The Main Thing? Is it very apparent (in my speech) that The Main Thing (i.e. the gospel) is The Main Thing in my life?
4. Point 4 is a continuation of point 3. Do people see grace from my actions? I can communicate much and never speak a word. Does grace (and the gospel) permeate every aspect of my body?
After all of that, I realize just how far I have to go. And the temptation is to be overwhelmed with guilt and then to do nothing. But, that is when one of my favorite Bible verses comes into action… “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…” I cannot change myself! Only one thing can (and does) change me. The power of God. The same power that spoke the Universe into existence, is the power that changes my sinful heart! I rest in the truth that, “He who began a good work in you will finish it to completion.” I must repent where I have sinned. And then I come to my loving Savior and beg for His help. Knowing that He gladly gives grace to the humble. Oh, the glories of the gospel! Oh, the amazing privilege of being a child of the King! It’s a hard journey, but, oh it’s so worth it! Sanctification is so difficult, but so exciting! I love looking back and seeing what God has done. It gives me so much faith for the future!!!
How about you? What do people hear from you?