Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 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 ESV
My throat stung as my ears rang from the words that just flew out of my mouth. Then my cheeks flamed hot as shame rushed in…my words would never build up, at least not said in that manner. They certainly could corrupt though.
Words can corrupt. The Greek word translated corrupting is used when talking about rotten or putrid vegetables. Rotten vegetables ruin the whole pot of soup. Similarly, corrupting words can ruin a relationship, or tear down a person’s self-worth. Putrid words can corrupt minds, break down spirits, turn souls the wrong direction. Words can bring life or death.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 ESV
Far too often I let words escape my lips that corrupt or putrefy. Instead God wants us to speak words that build up, encourage. And the thing about encouragement is that it gives courage to those who hear it – courage to try, to fail, to get up, to try again. These building up words also give grace.
The word grace was translated from Greek word charis which can mean:
a special manifestation of the divine presence, activity, power or glory; a favor, expression of kindness, gift, blessing… Barclay M. Newman Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 197.
That means that God can work through our words to help folks experience His presence. What a precious gift from God – that He would use our words to give a special manifestation of His presence, activity, power, or glory to those who hear! Oh, but we must then let our words be gifts of grace and not rotten vegetables.
Father God I confess that often my words are corrupting. They would not bring those who hear them grace. Forgive me for words that ruin and putrefy those who hear. Help me speak words that give Your grace to those who hear. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.