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.Ephesians 4:29(NASB)
We are not simply to read God's Word and study its content in order to expand our knowledge of Scripture. We have a positive responsibility to obey His Word and apply it in our everyday life, for when we walk in the unity of the Spirit and live in holiness of heart, we mature in the faith, grow in grace, and produce the fruit of humility, patience, gentleness, and love.
From the moment we are regenerated, the old self-life is to be put off and should remain nailed to the Cross, and we are to "put on the new." We become a new man with a new life; the in-breathed life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. We are declared righteous by God, made part of His new creation, become a member of Christ mystic Body, and are covered with His perfect righteousness.
We have a duty to obey God's Word so that we mature in the faith and are progressively conformed into the image and likeness of the lovely Lord Jesus. Just as our 'old man' followed the sinful ways of the world, so the 'new man' is to walk in the way of righteousness and live in the truth of His Word.
To help us actively put off the old man and put on the new, Paul exhorts us to live in a certain way and adopt certain godly attitudes and behaviours, while abstaining from things that are carnal and fleshly. He exhorts us to rid ourselves of wordly vices and stop deceiving, defrauding, or harming others. We are to avoid sinning when anger rises in our heart, and deal with wrong motives and harmful emotions speedily.
We are to refrain from selfishness and stealing, and we are to work hard so we are able to bless others for the sake of Christ. And in this verse, we are exhorted to speak wholesome words and do good things that encourage and edify others: "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth," we are instructed, "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."
We are to guard our tongue and not allow any corrupt communication to fall from our lips. The words we speak should flow from a heart that is centred on Christ and should minister timely words of grace and encouragement to others. This call to put off unwholesome words and engage in gracious speaking means excluding all types of improper language, silly speech, coarse words, and hurtful jestings. It is also a call to exclude spreading rumours, participating in gossip, circulating lies, boastful comments, or engaging in scornful or blasphemous speech.
Unwholesome, worthless words are to be replaced by good and gracious speech for a reason... so that others are edified and encouraged by what we say. Ecclesiastes tells us: "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious." The book of Proverbs reminds us: "An appropriate answer brings joy to a person, and a well-timed word is a good thing." When a word we have spoken has given encouragement to others and meets a timely need, it is a joyful thing, it blesses others, and it honours the Lord.
There are many passages throughout Scripture with this sentiment: "Pleasant words are pure while the words of a worthless man are like a scorching fire." Jesus is the supreme example of a wise man whose words are pure, timely, holy, and honoured God. We read in Luke: "All were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips," and can we ever forget the wonderful words of forgiveness Christ uttered on the Cross?
We are not simply to know what Scripture says, but are to act responsibility and obey the call of God to speak timely words of encouragement. And speaking such words will edify the Body, rejoice the heart, give grace to all those who hear them, and honour our Father in heaven.
Heavenly Father, I pray that no unwholesome words would proceed from my mouth, but that the words of my lips and the meditation of my heart may be gracious and good. I pray that my speech would edify my brothers and sisters in Christ and honour Your name by speaking the truth in love. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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