Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) “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.”
It occurred to me this morning that when I read this verse, I tend to think of it as applying only to the person I am talking to…the person in front of me.
But …how many times are others within earshot who are being influenced by what we say? It could be a child, a coworker, a spouse or someone else who has been watching your life…taking their cues from you. Whoever is listening will often be measuring their own behavior by what you are saying or even your tone.
Your words are influencing the life of not just the one to whom you are speaking but the ones within earshot. Remember too, that our words and the attitude behind them are most likely going to be repeated… even lived out. The ripples broaden.
God created the world with His words. We create much of our world with our words and…influence the world of those who are listening.
More and more God is asking me to refine my speech. Old habits die hard…especially in comfortable relationships. You have built relationships on certain behaviors. Changing those behaviors can be uncomfortable and feel impossible when the old way fits like a glove.
Staying conscious of minding your tongue…asking God to give you the heart and the words is especially hard to remember when you are within your old comfort zone and “in the moment”.
We can’t take our own words lightly…ever. Every single time we sit down with friend or family, let’s ask God to remind us how important these moments are…now and for the future.
Either we are building up and encouraging others toward more productive, relational, peaceful lives or…not. It will help immensely if we rehearse this easy-to-remember but powerful truth…
“The power of life and death are in the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21a