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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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
It’s not that you’re never going to have any unwholesome thoughts. We are still slowly shaking off our bad habits and being renewed in the way we think about things. But what would happen if all complaint, bitterness, sarcasm, and grumbling disappeared? Honestly, very few people have any idea of how to live this way. It all comes so natural to us to critique, curse, and bite that it’s hard to even know what to talk about if we eliminated all of that.
That is when we stop doing what comes naturally and start doing what comes supernaturally. Criticism and tearing down ultimately come from a spot where we can vault ourselves up over others if we can put them down. Sure, we don’t think that on purpose, but our pride gets a charge when we voice our better way of doing things.
Or how we wouldn’t have made the stupid choice in that situation.
Or how I couldn’t have done such an evil thing if I was tempted like that.
Or how I have more sense than this or that person or even you.
Those aren’t overtly unwholesome like a foul-mouthed tirade, but they aren’t building up the listener, they are building up the speaker.
As Christ rules and reigns in our hearts, He offers us a chance to be cleansed of the critical speech that we have made the norm. As we learn to build each other up and encourage each other or stay quiet, the faith of the people around us will increase. Look at how a kid stands up a little more straight when you tell them they did great leading the songs in the kids’ service. Imagine that on an exponential scale.
Building people up is more than sterile compliments and being friendly people that don’t cuss. It fits right into the context of the rest of Ephesians. It’s caring about one another enough to talk each other closer to the Lord. Speaking words that aren’t designed to build up the speakers, but the listeners. That kind of speech makes the Christian lifestyle extremely attractive.
That leads to making the Holy Spirit happy in each one of us, also. If Christ is living in me and you tell me a bunch of things that help me grow in Him, His Spirit becomes more joyful in me. If you expose me to a bunch of sin with your words, then Christ who is in me, who hopes to see you grow and mature in Him, is bummed because you aren’t talking words of light.
You can see how this moves way beyond cuss words or