Positive Speech

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29)

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:29

As tempting as it is to rush over these areas of life-change that belong to being a Christian, it is important that we take moments to dwell upon them. The truth will never change us if it is not carefully considered and prayerfully applied.

Paul next speaks of the change that needs to take place in our speech. Our “old self” – the person we were when we lived for ourselves in sin – used words to wound and destroy others for our gain. How common such speaking is. But it has to stop, Paul says.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,” he writes (Ephesians 4:29). The word translated as “corrupting” takes me back to my school and university years when I enjoyed the study of biology and botany. It comes from the Greek word sapros which means “rotting, decaying”. Saprophytic plants are those which grow in the rotting debris that litters a forest floor or the trunks of trees. That’s the idea of “corrupting” here – it refers to that which rots or brings about decay. It takes things which are whole and good and destroys them.

Speech can be like that. It can inject thoughts into people’s minds that “corrupt” good beliefs and poison wholesome feelings. Our words can maim, they can discourage, and they can defile what is pure in people. But this cannot be the pattern of the followers of Christ.

Instead, what comes out of our mouths is to be “only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (v. 29). “Building up” people is exactly the opposite of “corrupting” them. It is to make them stronger in faith, love, good works, values, confidence, courage and the like.

We can have this effect on others not by falsely flattering them, but by “speaking the truth in love” (v. 15). Above all, we can build people up as we help them to see Christ more clearly – his love and grace, the matchless quality and wisdom of his words, and his ever-present sufficiency to help them in their needs.

Interestingly, Paul mentions that we are to do so “as fits the occasion.” It is possible to say good things to people – true things, things that point them to the Lord Jesus – but to do so at the wrong time. It is especially as we speak words appropriate to the needs of others that we become a means of blessing to them. Through the prompting and enabling of the Spirit of the Lord, our words can “give grace to those who hear.”

What a beautiful thing this is – to have our words minister, convey, and impart grace to those who hear them. Ultimately, of course, that “grace” is the influence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. But that is what happens as we let the Spirit guide our thoughts and words to others. We become the channels through which he works in their lives.

Closing Thoughts:

  • How careful are you in the way you speak to other people?
  • Do you ask God to make you a channel of blessing to other people through your words?

– Andrew Young