But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should asswage your grief. (Job 16:5 KJV)
The words we speak are emotionally potent. They have profound impacts on the people who hear them. In this devotional, you will learn how to use your words to build up people and avoid destroying them with the wrong words.
The Lord repeatedly commands us in the scriptures to be careful how we talk to people. He instructs us:
“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 ESV)
Gracious words have an edifying effect on people; they build up, strengthen, encourage, inspire or bring out the best in them. Have you ever been down emotionally, but after hearing some encouraging words, you felt energetic and encouraged? Please note that the context for these instructions is not preaching. Instead, it is our everyday conversations—with our wives, husbands, kids, siblings, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. The rivers of living waters in our bellies find their most effective channel to flow out in our words. Therefore pour refreshing water to build up people who hear you.
Our words do not only build up, but they can destroy people when they are spoken without grace. Of the many passages in the Bible that describe corrupt talk, Romans 3:13-14 is mind-blowing:
““Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” (Romans 3:13–14 ESV)
First, it describes corrupt words as an open grave; an open grave pours out the stench from the decaying body in it. Ever listened to someone and every word spoken is like the stench coming from rotten eggs? Besides the open grave analogy, Paul uses the poisonous venom of asps to describe corrupt words—these words hurt, destroy and inflict injury to those who hear them.
Corrupt talk (Ephesians 4:29) destroys, discourages, hurts, and demotivates the hearers. Such destructive words are so powerful that the Lord says we should not even speak them while joking: bad words know not “I was just kidding.”
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” (Ephesians 5:4 ESV)
Our everyday conversations exert a powerful effect on hearers, and the Lord wants us to build up people, not destroy them with our mouths—not when we are angry or just joking.
When was the last time you got in trouble because of what you said?
Apply the Word
Watch your mouth, for controlling our words is an important sign of spiritual maturity (James 3:2). Few things reveal our spiritual immaturity or instability as speaking words just because we feel disposed to do so. Minister grace as you communicate with people.
Ask the Spirit for the grace to talk graciously as we communicate with others.