Do you remember the last time someone spoke an encouraging word to you? Maybe it was a simple ‘thanks’ or perhaps it was a well-deserved, yet not sought-after compliment on your performance or a recent accomplishment. The best ones are the words that speak to your character, to who you are, not just how well you do.
There’s something powerful in our words when used to build up another person. Paul knew that and knew that the church needed to practice.
In Ephesians 4:25-32 we see the idea of living this new life of grace with others. Paul essentially passes on a list of dos and don’ts. Not to worry. This is not a quick descent into a binding legalistic lifestyle. This is simply taking the Words of scripture and applying them as God intended. The dos and don’ts are actually quite welcoming. We need not fear, simply examine and apply.
Here’s one point for us to ponder, taken from vs 29:
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.
Don’t use your speech to corrupt, tear-down, or in any obscene way. Instead, use it to build up. The principle is that others need the grace your words can give.
How are you at lifting up others with your speech? I don’t do well here. Well, I can, and sometimes do. But it’s not a natural thing. Maybe that’s good. Maybe that shows me I need God’s Spirit within me to remind me and equip me and help me when it comes to building others up. The term for building up is the same as used in verse 12 where Paul says that the body of Christ is built up as we are equipped to serve one another. Perhaps its this ‘building up’ kind of speech that God uses to build up the entire church.
I have a dear friend who lives this. Every time, and I mean every time I see him, he’s encouraging. And what’s happened is there is this community around him that does the same. Building up does not mean we flatter [false praise] or constantly use syrupy language. It simply means we look for words that will build up in grace, and not tear down in judgment or criticism. You and I both know there’s a world of difference.
So, let’s try it. Use your words to speak into another person’s life, with uplifting descriptive terms that encourage. Let’s try it on facebook, twitter, a quick text message, or better yet, in person.
The sermon and NEW accompanying notes are found here!