Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:25-32
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29)
We’ve heard the old adage — “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We know this is not true. Other people’s words can devastate and hurt us. Paul is applying the principle of the old self — new self (vs. 20-24) in verses 25-32. Remember that we must replace an old habit with a new one. Thus, the person who is a chronic liar must stop lying and start telling the truth (v. 25). The person who is a thief must stop stealing and begin to work (v. 28).
The principle applies to our speech also. Instead of tearing others down with our words, we are to build them up with our words. Can you imagine the different this would make if we consistently spoke words that build up people rather than tearing them down? It is so easy to criticize. We can always find something to criticize about another person. It is not just the words we say, but the tone we use that can hurt others. This is where the old self — new self principle comes in.
Instead of being critical and hurtful (old self), we should be gracious and loving (new self). We are to speak words of grace to others — “that it may give grace to those who hear.” We must first identify our tendency to be critical of others, to point out their failures, faults, and mistakes. Then we need to repent — “to put off the old self and be renewed int he spirit of your minds” (vs. 22,23). We must change our minds about the way we speak to people. We must not criticize others, but build them up with our words, to give them grace.
Today let’s focus on our speech. Instead of criticizing and putting others down with our words, let’s determine to build them up with our words. Let’s make it a point to be gracious in the way we speak to others. When we are doing this, the gospel is at work in our lives.
Lord Jesus, forgive me when I am critical of others. Forgive me when I speak harsh words that tear down rather than build up. By Your grace, enable me to be gracious and loving with my words and actions.
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