I must learn to take my own advice.
The title of this post is not original, but I cannot recall where I read it. It was a statement within a book. If I knew which one, I would credit the author.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4.29
The word corrupt connotes the meaning, rotten or putrified. We are very careful about what we put in our mouth, but very careless about what comes out of our mouth. Unless of course, we accidentally cough on someone, or when saliva comes out of our mouth, accidentally, as we speak. When that happens we are embarrassed and apologetic. Why are we not embarrassed by the/our use of gossip, criticism, and foul language? Please note, Paul wrote, “NO” corrupt communication.
Jesus said, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” Matthew 15.11
James writes,“Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” James 3.9-11
Using foul language, name-calling, gossip, slander, lying, flattery, and insults are clearly a contradiction of Christ’s teaching. Which explains the apostle’s conundrum, it makes no sense, in one moment we worship Jesus and just moments later we verbally crucify someone, or others. Ironically, sometimes we gossip from the pulpit or teaching platform. Why are we not careful wth our speech? Paul was an excellent teacher. He commands readers not to use corrupt communication, but he also provides a solution. Instead of using corrupt communication, we need to edify and minister grace.
The word edify, means, “to build up.” The contrast of edification to corrupt communication makes complete sense. Insults, name-calling, and hurtful words tear people down. As Christians, we should be professionals at building people up, but why is that not the case? Why do I sometimes walk away from a conversation feeling discouraged? When I read what Christians write on Facebook I feel really discouraged and torn down. I don’t know why I even look at Facebook. I am aware of my own sin, too often, my family becomes tired of my mouth. In my brief experience of working with people I have noticed how well people respond to encouragement. I have also noticed that people do not receive criticism well, something I already knew about myself. Sarcasm is wretched, I hear a lot of sarcasm. I use to be very sarcastic, till I heard others (younger others) repeat my clever cliches. Sarcasm never builds, sarcasm only destroys. We must be careful about including sarcasm in our “constructive criticism.”
As we minister grace, we cause others to experience joy, pleasure, and delight. Ministering grace involves talking sweetly to someone, encouraging others. Edification serves as the builder; we can offer encouragement, practical advice, and even biblical truth. Grace establishes the parameters for the conversation, good body language, a good tone, active listening, and avoiding defensive communication. As we communicate we should think the very best about the person with whom we are speaking, recognizing that all people are created in God’s image. He has set His affection on humanity (all of humanity). Active listening will improve a conversation, people want to be heard. They want to know that we care about them, and what they are saying. Giving others our full attention, and listening well will provide a pleasurable experience. The problem is that most of us are unskilled at active listening. Most of the time we are thinking about what we want to say, or what we would rather be doing. I should be extremely grateful for the people in my life, those who tolerate me.