“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).
Friend To Friend
I remember taking my son, Steven, to an amusement park just before he began fourth grade. It was hot, the lines were long, and I began to feel queasy from being gyrated and jerked to sudden stops from 60 miles per hour. I wasn’t sure Steven realized what a great mom he had. I was feeling quite the martyr and felt the need to remind Steven just how lucky he was to have a mother like me. But before the words escaped from my mouth, the Holy Spirit gently stopped me. Was that what I really wanted to say? Would those words make Steven feel “lucky” or would they make him feel guilty, like he owed me something?
Instead of uttering my initial thought, I wrapped my arms around my precious young son and said, “Steven, I am so lucky to have a son like you that I can bring to a place like this!”
With those words, a dimpled smile spread across his precious face, and I was thankful for the splash of the watery roller coaster that disguised the tears streaming down my face.
If I had spoken that first sentence, Steven would not have felt lucky to have a mom like me at all. He would have felt guilty, and that he needed to pay me back for my “kindness.” However, the revised version made him feel special, treasured, and loved.
Now, who was encouraged? Actually, we both were.
Perhaps you have some old tapes from your past that you tend to replay with your own children. Did your mother make comments that caused you to feel guilty or as if you were indebted to her for the care she gave you? Perhaps she still does. Many moms could be travel agents for guilt trips. Is that how you want to be remembered?
Guilt is like verbal heartburn or acid reflux of the soul. It just keeps on coming back and coming back. But we can change the verbal menu and decide not to serve up a dish of words that cause indigestion!
I had success with my words that day at the amusement park, but not every day has been a banner day. I have used my words to tear down instead of build up. I have failed many times. The tongue is difficult to control. It can only be tamed by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has given those who are in Christ Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit. He is referred to as our “Helper.” Just like a wild lion who is trained by hours and hours of discipline, so our tongue can be tamed by prayer and practice.
Dear LORD, today, I simply want to pray back Your Word. I pray that You will help me not to let any unwholesome word come out of my mouth today, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. If it isn’t helpful, may I keep my mouth shut. If it builds them up, may I speak freely and often.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
OK, this is a tough one. If you’re reading this devotion in the morning, I want you to pay attention to the words you speak today.
As you go through the day categorize your spoken words as:
Helpful or Unhelpful
Edifying or Unedifying
If you are reading this devotion at the close of the day, you’re not off the hook. This is your assignment for tomorrowJ.