STICKS AND STONES

Scripture Reading:  Ephesians 4:25-32

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  (Ephesians 4:29,30)

I am sure you remember the old saying — “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”  By now, you know that these words are not true at all.  Words can hurt us badly!  All of us know the pain that other people’s words have brought upon us.  Their words may stick with us for a life time.

Paul uses a Greek word to describe the kind of talk that is hurtful — it is a word that is used to describe “rotten” fruit and “putrid” fish.  The ESV translates the Greek word “sapros” with our English word “corrupting.”  Such talk is hurtful, demeaning, rotten and putrid.  It intends to put others down and to criticize them unjustly.  These may be harsh words or belittling comments that are meant to put other people down or to hurt them.  Sometimes it is not the words themselves that hurt others, it is the way we say them.

Often we speak these words out of anger.  We say them to attack another person or to demean their character.  We get defensive and launch an offensive attack with our words.  We may use words to curse others or to insult them.  Sometimes we do put others down to make us feel better about ourselves.  If I can be critical of another, I feel better about myself.  And the problem is that we sometimes do this to the ones we love most.

We are being told to stop speaking to others in this manner and instead to use words that build up other people,  by using words that encourage them.  They are to be words of grace.  It may be that the people to whom we speak such encouraging words may not deserve them, but we graciously choose to speak kind words to them and not harsh, critical ones.  This is only possible by God’s grace which has been extended to us.  As we seek to appropriate the power of the indwelling Spirit, He will give us the ability to exercise self control and patience.  He will enable us to build up others with our words and not tear them down.  This is the gospel at work in our lives.

It is interesting to me that the verse which warns us not to grieve the Holy Spirit immediately follows the instructions about how we speak to other people.  God is grieved when we grieve others — even if it is just with our words.

O Holy Spirit, give me grace to speak words of encouragement to others.  Give me self control when I speak to others, especially to those who may offend me.

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